A personal story by our Youth Okanagan contributor, James Sieben
Involvement in sports is one of the biggest parts of my
identity. However, when I came out as trans this summer, I risked losing that
part of myself.
I play volleyball and ultimate frisbee and have competed at
the National level in both sports. I was a pretty solid female player who had a
hopeful career in front of her.
Then, I came out as a man.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret coming out at all. I
probably wouldn’t be alive if I hadn’t. That being said, the sports world is
very difficult to navigate as a queer person who doesn’t fit into ‘typical’
binary expectations of gender, and it can be quite unforgiving.
Once I started testosterone hormone replacement therapy, I
started to match up against my cis male counterparts. I found I was rarely able
to keep up with them, and felt I had lost all the progress I worked so hard to
achieve. I had established myself as one of the better female players, but now
as a man, I was at the bottom of the proverbial totem pole.
Most cis men have the upper hand in sports due to
testosterone, muscle mass, bone density…. I could go on, but I think you get
the idea. Pair this with the very binary-centered sports culture, and you get a
twiggy trans guy being constantly misgendered and surpassed by other men (and
To be quite frank, I cried a lot and thought about quitting
almost every day. But then I thought about who I would be without ultimate (and
sports in general), and I didn’t like what I saw. The truth is, I have been
involved in sports from the time I could walk. Sports have become as much a
part of my identity as my being a trans man is. If I wasn’t involved with
sports, I don’t think I would be me, like I was still in the closet.
I have started training harder to get myself up to a level
where I can compete against cis guys, and I have begun being a lot nicer to
myself. Whenever I get frustrated, I try to remember that most of the guys have
had upwards of fifteen years to train with the advantages of testosterone and
I’ve had just about four months.
I’ve also used my position on the board of directors for the
Kelowna Ultimate Players Society to design a policy that seeks to acknowledge
the exclusive culture of sports, particularly for those with diverse gender
identities, and to promote respect and inclusivity for all players.
If you want to read the full policy, check it out on the
Kelowna Ultimate website: https://kelownaultimate.com/inclusivity
and if you want to give ultimate a try, come on out to one of our many events: https://kelownaultimate.com/leagues!