A Transgender Volleyball Players’ Path to an NCAA Women’s Team | Identify


(IN 2016, THE INTERNATIONAL
OLYMPIC COMMITTEE
RULED THAT TRANSGENDER ATHLETES
COULD COMPETE WITHOUT
UNDERGOING SURGERY.)
(THIS POLICY MADE HISTORY
IN THE SPORTS WORLD,
WELCOMING A NEW GENERATION
OF ATHLETES
INTO THE OLYMPIC FAMILY.)
(CHLOE ANDERSON WAS RECENTLY
ACCEPTED AS AN NCAA ATHLETE.
SHE WILL BE ONE OF THE NEWEST
MEMBERS ON THE
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA
CRUZ VOLLEYBALL TEAM.)
(THIS IS HER STORY.)
The best way I can describe it,
when I was a kid,
and it’s your birthday
and you have your cake with all
the candles in front of you,
and people always tell you to
make a wish,
and blow out the candles,
well, I cannot explain why
it was my wish,
but I had always wanted to be
a girl.
It was just something
that I had always wanted.
(IDENTIFY)
(LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA)
(AUGUST 17TH)
(AFTER TWO YEARS AT SANTA ANA
COMMUNITY COLLEGE,
CHLOE IS PREPARING TO LEAVE HER
HOMETOWN AND TRANSFER TO UCSC.)
I would say volleyball came
very naturally to me.
It really helped me get through
high school.
A lot of high school, I was not
having a very good time.
– How’ve you been?
– I’m good.
I’ve missed you.
I’ve missed you too,
my little baby.
You want to have some lunch?
– Sure, yeah. Sounds good.
– OK.
So that’s Chloe’s graduation
picture.
– Haven’t seen that very often.
– No.
Chloe, you know, through middle
school and stuff,
super athletic and everything,
which was great,
but Chloe barely made it
through high school.
I mean, seriously, by the
skin of her teeth.
When I hit middle school,
I started to get really sad
because I realised that
I was hitting puberty,
and I absolutely hated
the way my body was changing.
I wanted, you know,
to be more feminine.
I wanted to be a girl.
Looking back, I had absolutely
no care about anything.
I didn’t want to be at school,
I had no desire to do homework.
I ended up getting kicked
off the volleyball team
my junior year, because my
grades had dropped so low.
I realised that what I was
feeling was being transgender.
I really just didn’t want
to exist.
– You want a Coke or something?
– Sure.
– Yeah, I’ll take one.
– OK. Here.
Is that a… What is that,
grapefruit juice?
Grapefruit juice.
Mind if I have some of that
with the Coke?
No. Whatever you want.
When I came out to my mom,
it was pretty funny.
I came out immediately after
getting off the plane
from when I was living
in Texas.
I was picking Chloe up
at the airport,
and that’s when Chloe told me,
“I’ve got to follow
my true essence
“of who I am as a person.”
You know of course you’re like,
“Uh, what?”
As a parent you’re wondering,
“Oh, my gosh.” You know?
Initially she was really upset
and I think confused,
and she didn’t have a very
positive initial reaction,
and it took her a while
to really come around
to accept me.
I’m going to miss you being
gone, I mean,
it’s been tough and you need
some support, and…
I’m definitely glad that
you’ve been there.
A lot of issues I’ve had
over the years.
Once Chloe talked to me,
and I was able to embrace it,
and I stopped trying to
convince her to not do that,
and I just stopped
making it about me –
cos it’s not about me,
it’s about Chloe and living
her best life,
and then I saw the wonderful
things that she was doing…
How could you not support
somebody
to be their best person
in life?
She was the first major
supportive family member I had.
So are you getting excited to
play volleyball and…?
Yeah, I think it’ll be…it’ll
be fun. It’ll be an experience.
It was pretty nice to have
my mom being supportive.
She came out to a few of
my volleyball games,
and it was great.
She’s a very loud whistler,
so it’s very easy to spot
when she’s at a game.
– Love you.
– I love you too.
– Drive careful. Bye.
Transitioning has definitely
had a lot of ups and downs.
I’ve had some of the lowest
lows since starting,
and some of the highest highs
since starting.
It’s…been a lot of mixed
feelings.
There’s a lot of people
that made me not feel like
I was welcomed,
and there was a lot of average
everyday things
that made me feel like
I was distant
or in a different world
than everyone else.
(SANTA ANA,
CA COMMUNITY COLLEGE)
(HIGHLIGHT FOOTAGE)
I originally wanted to play
for a college team.
When I realised I was doing
fairly all right
in a community college team,
I figured that I’d try and push
for an NCAA team
because it’s taking it
to the next level,
and it’s trying to prove
not only, like, to myself
but to everyone that told me
I couldn’t do it, that I could.
I had looked up schools
in different divisions,
and of the division two schools
that I spoke out to,
only a few responded when
I disclosed that I was trans.
Very quickly I got rejections.
I don’t know if it’s
connected or not.
The myth that trans athletes,
specifically transgender women,
have an advantage in sports, I
feel like it’s kind of a fear.
It’s an unfounded
scientific fear.
Growing up your whole life,
going through puberty,
you’re kind of understanding
how your body works, you know,
you get used to it.
Well, transitioning is like
going through puberty
backwards,
the other direction,
twice as far.
There’s a noticeable difference
in my athleticism.
For the first few months on
hormones,
like, I had a lot of
muscle pains
and my shoulders
would hurt a lot,
and I realised it’s
all my male muscle going away.
It was pretty challenging
at first
just having all my muscle
basically melt off my body.
I definitely can’t jump as high
as I used to.
I’m driving to meet some
friends out for dinner,
since it’s the last time
I’ll be able to see them
for a while.
– How are you guys?
– Hey.
– Hi.
– Hi. How are you?
I’m going to miss you all
a lot.
Awww!
It’s really not an easy process
having a good friend group,
and having people to be there
helps me transition easier,
cos without that sort of
scaffolding,
I feel like it would be a lot
harder for me to pursue
what I wanted to do.
I’ll see you all soon.
– Very soon.
– There she goes…
(AUGUST 18TH)
(MORNING OF CHLOE’S MOVE
TO UCSC)
It’s funny, the last thing
I grabbed before leaving
was actually my, uh,
Dungeons & Dragons dice set.
I was thinking, I’m like,
“If we’re gonna play D&D
up at college…”
All righty.
It’s, um, 5:52.
So almost 6:00 am.
I woke up a little early,
and just sat in bed
and stared at the ceiling.
Like, “Go back to sleep
for the last ten minutes!”
And I couldn’t seem to do it.
Should take us anywhere from
six to maybe
seven and a half hours.
(SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA)
We’re currently in Santa Cruz.
The drive was, uh, tiring,
but overall it wasn’t too bad.
This campus is literally on a
redwood, like, national forest.
So I think we’re going
the right way. I have no idea.
We shall see!
All right. Cool.
I think my biggest concerns
with having a new team
is just making a new
relationship with the coach,
making a new relationship with
my team-mates,
and some of them can speculate
if I’m trans or not,
I have no idea.
Well, the first person I spoke
to about going to Santa Cruz
was Coach Morgan.
(COACH MORGAN)
(UC SANTA CRUZ VOLLEYBALL)
Chloe e-mailed me,
and she said,
“I’m a junior college transfer
“and I’m really looking at
UC Santa Cruz,”
and I think in the same e-mail
was when she told me that she
was also a transgender athlete.
Because I had gotten rejected
from division two schools
really early in the fall
semester,
I wanted to make it very clear
for the schools
I was interested in D three
that I was just going to
disclose it immediately.
UC Santa Cruz does have a very
open environment,
and we really try to
make that known.
I sent her some footage of me
playing,
and she was really interested
in me.
What I noticed with Chloe
was that she’s a strong
volleyball player.
She has a lot of power,
and she’s also tall.
We’re going to follow the trail
around a little bit
to the McHenry Library
where the team meeting is.
(CHLOE ATTENDS HER FIRST NCAA
TEAM MEETING OF THE SEASON)
(AUGUST 19TH)
(MORNING OF FIRST
TEAM PRACTICE)
Last night,
at the very end of
the team meeting,
Coach Morgan was like,
“I think we should come out
to the team tonight.”
and I was like,
“I’m not prepared for this,
“but…sure, that’s fine,
I’m cool with it.”
And the team read an article
that I had written…
(THIS TRANSGENDER COLLEGE
VOLLEYBALL PLAYER
(IS HEADED TO THE NCAA)
..and at the very end,
after everyone had read it,
Coach Morgan told the team
that I had written the article,
and that I am a trans athlete.
I was kind of, you know,
shaking my legs a little,
fiddling with my hands…
because I wasn’t sure
how the reaction would be.
And there was just silence.
And I’m just sitting there
like,
“Oh, no, I hope this isn’t
a negative reaction,”
but it wasn’t. It was just me
overthinking things.
We all read Chloe’s article.
I think most of us had already
read the article
cos we’d met her at tryouts,
and so you look up your
team-mates on Facebook.
Coming here, like, it’s really
more of an open community
and like, open-mindedness,
it’s like a big aspect
of the, like, college here.
I don’t think, like,
anyone on our team
has anything like, “Oh, my
gosh, “she’s transgender.”
I don’t think that was ever the
talk between any of us.
It was more of just looking
at her as another person
that’s coming and trying to
take, like, your playing time.
The only question I got
afterwards,
the funniest question
I could have been asked, was,
“Are you an English major?
“Cos this is really well
written,” and it was like,
“Oh… Thank you.”
UCSC is a very liberal campus,
I think you either
get the programme or get out.
You either accept it or
you’re not welcome here
cos we include everyone.
Today we’re practising
as a team,
but there’s also going to be
a few little
preliminary exercises
and whatnot.
I’m just so fortunate
that my entire team
has been so supportive,
and there wasn’t any
awkwardness.
Everyone was just, “OK.”
And that’s honestly the
greatest feeling ever.
I’m just excited to finally
go out and
play with the volleyball.
Hearing them talk about
going to nationals,
and I can’t believe that it’s
actually come to this point,
and that I made it this far.
Cruz on three.
One, two, three, Cruz!
Knowing that everything is at
the point that it’s at
is absolutely amazing.
All my life dreams are
literally coming true.
I never expected any
of them to.
– Bye, Chloe.
– Bye. See you tomorrow.
It’s hard to describe to people
how happy it makes me
to be here.
At the end of the day I’m just
a person that loves volleyball,
and I want to play it.
I just love the sport
that I play,
and want to try
and continue to do it,
so I just keep pushing
to make sure I do.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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