I’ve been struggling with what to write about – not for lack of topics but because of all the things that have been flying around in my head over the past year, past few months, weeks, minutes really. I feel like my mind is going non-stop all the time. At a moment in our lives where some of us thought we’d have more time than ever before, that’s just not really the way this is all working out.
I can’t believe the fact that I am actually almost a year into working from home; a year that started out with me in a panic and keeping my family inside and away from everyone to Breonna, Ahmaud and George to The Big Lie to white supremacists storming the Capitol to the assault on Trans kids – there’s just a lot. And that’s on top of actual family life, work, launching a podcast and just being black and trans right now.
I realized that I needed to write. Get something out there – get it out of my head and keep moving. So I’ve been doing some thinking about all that’s going on and it has me reflecting on how I got here. What things or circumstances or situations brought me to this point in my life – to who and how I am.
There are many, (too many), things that have happened to get me here but I’m going to focus in on one.
1. Basketball Saved Me
I can tell you with 100% certainty that if I didn’t have basketball growing up, I do not know how I would have made it or what I would have been. Thank goodness for me that I didn’t know that I was Trans when I was a kid because unaffected adults would have tried to take it away from me under the guise of protecting other kids. I have watched people I would have considered friends pass around petitions to keep Trans kids from playing sports, 20 states are working on bills to ban Trans kids from sports and locker rooms, and there are countless memes and arguments on the internet about this fictional Trans takeover of sports. It just doesn’t exist. What does exist is ignorance, fear and Transphobia. This attack on Trans kids who just want to be themselves and have an opportunity to play sports like every other kid is really, really hard to watch and hear. REALLY HARD.
I’m not saying lightly that I don’t know where I would be. Basketball is all I did and it’s what I had. I didn’t date, I didn’t party, I didn’t explore my sexuality or get to know my body or have conversations about things I was feeling. I played basketball. And it taught me many things: how to work hard, to be tough, have passion for something, how to be a teammate, a leader, a role model – CONFIDENCE. It also masked what else was going on. Things I didn’t have to face or really think about until I wasn’t playing anymore. It was an outlet that gave me space to be me without being me. It was important to my development as a human being.
And it gave me the opportunity to go to college and get my education for free at one of the best Universities in the world, and definitely the state of Michigan! #GoBlue
Before I stop, I just want to share a quick story that I have only told like four people but I really want you to understand: When I was around 30 years old I was seeing this therapist, (because therapy is good), and she told me that at that time in some ways, and I’m paraphrasing because it was 10 years ago:
I was at about age 14-15 mentally when it comes to dealing with emotions, relationships, sex etc and said I really think that playing basketball to the level you did helped you thwart the negative effects of that throughout your young adult life. You were able to develop confidence because you had success; you developed people skills because of the nature of being around teams of people, and it makes sense that you would have some trouble explaining how you feel or why you feel a disconnect with yourself.
Obviously there was a little more to it than that, but that’s the gist and it’s always stayed with me. Then I fast forward to really understanding myself and learning that I was Trans and I can see clearly that BASKETBALL SAVED ME. Gave me a chance to be normal. As normal as I was going to be anyway.
I love my past with basketball – it’s in me. I’m also a VERY proud Michigan alum. It’s certainly a little weird having played women’s basketball and being me now, but it is what it is. That’s what I had and I’m grateful, especially now. Coming out as Trans wasn’t easy or something that I did carelessly or recklessly. This is serious, it affects people you care about and it’s scary. I wouldn’t recommend coming out as Trans if you aren’t Trans because, well you know, you could be murdered just for existing. Or you might not get the healthcare you need. Or you might get fired.
So I guess I’m saying that I don’t think you could find me a Trans kid who is doing this because it’s fun or they want an advantage. I think you could find a lot of Trans kids who need to play to survive.