Thursday, July 12, 2012
Keelin Godsey talks about his experience as transgender athlete
Keelin Godsey is a world class athlete who competes in the women’s hammer throw. Keelin recently placed fifth in the US Olympic Trials, narrowly missing the cut for the team going to London. Keelin is a transgender man who has not made a medical transition so that he can continue to compete in the women’s hammer throw. Not making a medical transition means that Keelin is not taking testosterone and has not undergone any surgical procedures as part of his transition.
Keelin sat down for an interview with Ann Schatz after the trials:
Many people are confused by the thought that a transgender man would want to or be allowed to compete in women’s sports. Some would say, “Ok, if you are a man, compete in the men’s hammer throw.” One of the many powerful parts of this interview is to hear Keelin talk about the importance of his identification as an athlete, and even more specifically, an elite hammer thrower. He talks about how being an athlete saved his life. He talk about how being a hammer thrower is such an important part of his identity and a source of his positive feelings about himself. I don’t see how you can listen to Keelin talk about this and not understand how devastating it would be to take away his opportunity to compete in his sport, women’s hammer throw.
You also can get a little insight into the process of deciding to transition, whether that is a social transition and/or a medical transition. You also get a small insight into the internal struggles and social obstacles that transgender people face in and out of sport just to live their lives as their truth demands. You feel the pain, the struggle, the courage and the determination to define yourself in opposition to powerful gender expectations that push us all into little boxes that limit our ability to see ourselves in any way that defies the gender binary we are taught is “normal.”
Keelin’s interview should be required viewing for anyone in sports who wants to learn, up close and personal, what it is like to be transgender and an athlete and to insist on the right to honor both parts of that identity.
It is also important to recognize that Keelin’s story is his. Every trans athlete has her or his own story and that Keelin’s story is only one of a larger mosaic of transgender experience that is as diverse and personalized as any of our stories. I recommend taking the 20 minutes necessary to watch and, more importantly, listen to Keelin. I promise you will come away with a deeper appreciation for what it means to be a transgender athlete.