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YO – LGBTQPOC2+ Youth in Sports

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 women, too).

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!

A Local Queen’s guide to enjoying the city

When you think of Kelowna a few world famous traits come to mind such as wine tours, fun in the sun, and orchards. But did you know that Kelowna is also home to some of the best LGBT2Q+ shows in the Province? With thanks to acts such as Sparkle, Kelowna residents and visitors alike are treated to fun, fervour, and ferociousness!

Sparkle has been bringing the Kelowna drag scene into life since 2012 when she was dared by a friend to enter Kelowna’s first annual drag competition. With a background in theatre and drama, it was a natural fit! Now referred to as the “Homer Simpson of Drag”, Sparkle is a renowned performer and host of our legendary Peak Pride event, happening every Spring here at Kelowna’s Big White Resort.

“Drag has always been important and it feels like now where the world is at it is more important than ever. Kelowna has such an accepting atmosphere so it feels very natural to have such a presence here and with drag so connected to sexuality, politics, gender, race, religion, and everything a human goes through, it’s a fantastic way to showcase our cultural diversity. It’s an active protest against injustice and intolerance in the world.  It shows great strength and confidence in ones being which can be really empowering. Like come on, if I can throw on a wig, heels and about 5 pounds of makeup to get on a stage at Sapphire for some outrageous tomfoolery, then what can’t I do?! ”

If you’re looking for a little insight into how a Kelowna Queen with a flair for adventure spends her leisure time, do read on. We asked Sparkle to share with us some of her favourite Kelowna pastimes:

  • Attending events such as Fruitcake, Peak Pride, Embodiment. Performing at these events is always a blast but the best part is looking out at all the hotties in the crowd. I may know for getting our DJ’s to remove their shirts – woof!
  • Packing a thermos full of hot chocolate (sometimes with a little Baileys – can you blame me) and heading down to the free ice skating rink in Stuart Park. Who doesn’t love a good reason to show off how adorable you are in your fav mitts and scarf? Don’t I look firece on skates?  This picture was taken just before I fell flat on my big padded a$$ (insert photo)

  • Experiencing some of the amazing restaurants like Raudz or Waterfront Wines. I love, love, love, the daily specials at Raudz so you can’t go wrong if you visit that spot on any day and be sure to enjoy the organic menu at Waterfront Wines now in their 14th year in biz! (insert photo) https://www.instagram.com/p/BYFHZ2BHqUN/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

  • Taking a fall stroll on the lake along the boardwalk and take in all the eye candy Kelowna has to offer!

Whether you are here for a visit, or are a long time resident, Kelowna’s team at Tourism Kelowna can always help you find the perfect local event for you and your fab friends to enjoy.
For a deeper look into Sparkle’s ongoing shenanigan’s check out her Facebook and Instagram profiles!