Transgender athlete who represents USA explains why NCAA returning to NC should not be celebrated

Chris Mosier (Source: Facebook)

After North Carolina lawmakers passed House Bill 2, Chris Mosier was faced with a decision about whether or not to compete in one of the most meaningful races of his life because of location.

The transgender athlete didn’t feel welcome in the Tarheel state and he was concerned for his safety both in competing and in navigating public spaces outside of his big race.

HB2 may be gone, but now HB142 stands firmly in its place, assuring the LGBTQ community will remain without lawful protections in the state of North Carolina.

After demanding the HB2 repeal and threatening to leave North Carolina for years to come, the NCAA announced shortly after HB142’s passage that championships would return to the state. The organization noted that lawmakers met its bare minimum requirements to be considered a venue.

LGBTQ advocates, including Mosier, have criticized the sports organization’s decision to “reward” North Carolina for the charade of repealing the sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation. They’ve also said it sends a message to other states considering similar “bathroom bills” that there won’t be repercussions.

“As a transgender athlete, it feels like HB142 puts me at risk for discrimination, harassment and exclusion,” Mosier said.

He became the first transgender athlete to represent America after earning a spot on the Team USA sprint duathlon men’s team for the 2016 World Championship. He is also a coach and the vice president of the You Can Play Project, which represents LGBTQ athletes.

Because of HB142, Mosier has once again been faced with the decision about whether or not to compete in North Carolina, but he made clear on a conference call last week that he’s not sitting this race out. He will return to Cary on April 28 to compete in the Cary Du Classic race.

The ACLU organized the conference call. The organization is fighting the NCAA’s decision to return to North Carolina and fighting for LGBTQ communities to have lawful protections both in the state and across the country.

“Personally, it’s important for me to show up and to compete, because I think that sends a message that we will not be stopped, and while it will be uncomfortable and it will not be my favorite race, I think it is important that I not let HB142 stand in the way of me achieving my athletic goals,” he said. “That being said, I don’t think that student athletes need to be put in that position.”

When Mosier attended the race last year, he gassed up at the border, before entering North Carolina, went straight to his hotel, then went from the hotel to the race, from the race to the hotel and then went home. He didn’t spend any money in the state and was uncomfortable in that setting.

“Most of my competitors were not focusing on these things in the critical days and moments leading up to our race,” he added.

He said when he first transitioned categories in sports in 2010, he excelled after getting acceptance from his teammates and competitors.

“When I was able to stop worrying about what people might say to me at the starting line about my gender, or if I would be able to use a particular locker room [facility], I found that I could put more of my focus and my attention in my training, in my racing, and then that kind of effort showed,” he said. “I began winning my age group and eventually winning races overall.”

He said when he was in North Carolina last year, he didn’t even wear his regular uniform that said “Mosier U.S.A.” because he didn’t want to be a target after speaking out against HB2.

“Imagine being at the starting line at one of, if not the most, important sporting events of your career and being worried about being attacked or being harassed,” he said.

Competing without fear, having access to locker rooms and public spaces are critical components of achievement for an athlete, and North Carolina does not offer that with HB142 in place, according to Mosier.

“We know that these laws single out transgender people like me by sending a message that we are not worthy of legal protection and that we shouldn’t be included in public life,” he said. “HB142 creates an unsafe environment for people who are, or who are perceived to be, transgender, and it has a particular focus on harming trans people. … What’s happening here is that they are authorizing discrimination, and it situates me as a transgender person as a threat to the safety and privacy of others, which I am not, and transgender people are not.”

Mosier wants to believe the NCAA values inclusion. In fact, he has presented twice at NCAA inclusion conferences.

“I know there are good people doing great work at NCAA about inclusion, and that was not part of this conversation and that was not reflected in the outcome of them returning back to North Carolina,” he said.

Mosier said the LGBTQ community’s protection should not be an afterthought, adding that the values instilled in sports participants do not line up with North Carolina’s intolerance and discrimination.

“I think that sport is really a great equalizer, and it’s also a great vehicle for social change,” he said. “I know that those athletes who are accepting me, welcoming me, see me as a great athlete, learn that I’m transgender, learn more about transgender identity [and] they become better, more inclusive people outside of the games, outside of the races, and so there’s a great benefit to our interactions.”

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Transgender athlete who represents USA explains why NCAA returning to NC should not be celebrated