First Transgender Athlete to Compete in Olympic Trials Discusses Trans Inclusion, Excellence at Rowan University

Chris Mosier and Kate Harman stand together following their discussion on transgender athletes in sports. - Photo / Berry Andres

During the International Association for Communication and Sports (IACS) Summit hosted by Rowan University, athlete and activist Chris Mosier took to the floor of Business Hall to discuss the role of transgender athletes in sports, public policy and personal struggle. 

The discussion, facilitated by Rowan sports communication and media professor Kate Harman, was scheduled to be the “keynote session” of the four-day event on Saturday, March 5.

Chris Mosier began his athletic career competing in triathlons in 2009, before publicly identifying himself as a transgender man in 2010, and continuing to compete in duathlons and triathlons that aligned with his gender identity. Since transitioning, Mosier became a six-time member of Team USA in duathlon & triathlon, earned All-American honors, won two national championships in racewalking and competed in Olympic Trials. 

In many of these spaces, Mosier was the first transgender athlete, leading to him becoming a catalyst for change regarding many policies. One example of such is the International Olympic Committee, which changed its transgender athlete inclusion policies after being challenged by Mosier in 2015 when he became the first known trans man to represent the United States in international competition.    

“People are saying [trans athlete exclusion policies are] about protecting women’s sports. Which, these bills do nothing to protect cisgender women and girls,” Mosier said. “In fact, it puts them in a position of harm of policing women’s bodies even further…In states that have trans inclusive policies, the participation rate for cisgender girls is actually higher as well.”

Mosier placed specific emphasis on the effects of misinformation and disinformation that plagues the trans community, and many institutions at the forefront of trans-exclusionary policies throughout the country. 

“I know some of it comes from a place of ignorance,” Harmon said in reference to conversations surrounding transgender athletes that have occured in her classrooms at Rowan University. “And some of it comes from a place of malice.” 

In addition to being a transgender athlete, Mosier has become a fierce advocate for more inclusive policies, and a champion for the people behind the policies. 

In 2017, Mosier began his role as executive producer of “Changing the Game.” The documentary, which premiered on Hulu in June 2021, highlights three young, transgender athletes as they compete in their respective sports. However, instead of focusing solely on the history or politics present in each story, “Changing the Game” examines the three athletes’ distinctly adolescent personalities, their struggles in the face of anti-trans bigotry, and their supportive friends and family that give them the courage to compete. 

“We need more stories from our mouths. From our producers. From people who have trans people on their team and who are building relationships with the people in their documentaries,” Mosier said. 

Those in the audience had many questions for Mossier, ranging from the definition of gender-affirming medical care for young people and adults to his thoughts on Dave Chappelle’s recent stand up special. 

“We don’t hear about the trans athletes that are participating who are in the middle of the pack. And we don’t hear about the trans guys who are participating, or even doing well,” Mosier said. “But for any trans athlete who is good at their sport, it becomes a global controversy… It’s not okay to just include trans athletes but say that we can’t be good at our sports.”

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