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Breaking barriers for non-binary athletes

G Ryan finds success in the pool and the classroom

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G Ryan, gay news, Washington Blade, non-binary athletes

G Ryan identifies as non-binary or genderqueer and swims on the women’s team at the University of Michigan. (Photo courtesy G Ryan)

When G Ryan started competitive swimming at age 12 in Kutztown, Pa., they found it entertaining, fun and a way to meet people. They never considered that it might be a path to being an NCAA athlete.

That all changed when they won the 800m freestyle at the USA Swimming National Championships at age 15 and followed that up with gold and bronze medals at the Pan Am Games.

Their coach, Erik Posegay, took a coaching position at North Baltimore Aquatics Club and Ryan left home to train with the team that produced Michael Phelps. They would finish high school in a cyber program offered through their public high school in Kutztown.

“I am the youngest child and it was really challenging for me to leave home,” Ryan says. “Kutztown and Baltimore are very different places and a lot changed in a short period. It was the right decision though because my club results led to the University of Michigan.”

Ryan wrapped up their junior year at Michigan this past spring with their most successful year yet in the pool. Two-time NCAA All-American, three-time Big Ten champion, NCAA Championships finalist – the list goes on and includes academic achievements.

When they start to discuss what it means to be a part of an NCAA Division 1 swimming program at a powerhouse Big 10 school, their tone fills with enthusiasm.

“We have talked through what we want to accomplish with the first-year swimmers coming in this fall and how we want to guide and shape what the team looks like this year,” Ryan says. “There will be shared responsibility and I am very excited to step into that role and share my experiences.”

G Ryan not only has swimming experiences, but also life experiences that include coming to understand where they are on the gender spectrum. Ryan identifies as non-binary or genderqueer and swims on the women’s team at the University of Michigan.

“When I arrived at Michigan, I didn’t have an extensive education about identity and I didn’t have the vocabulary to express how I felt,” Ryan says. “I hung out with my brother growing up but I never identified as one of the guys. I occupied that role as a tomboy and I held on to that feeling.”

Ryan began using the LGBT resources at the Spectrum Center on campus and started the education process along with building a strong network of people for support.

“The first time I was asked “what is your pronoun” my whole world opened up,” Ryan says. “I thought that even the trans community had binary roles.”

The LGBT resource center has given Ryan the opportunity to interact with people who have similar identities. In the binary world of athletics, they realize that for now, they need to be able to embrace both sides.

“Explaining my identity, especially in athletics, is difficult and there are days when I am exhausted by trying to move through the world as a binary person,” Ryan says. “I am just taking it one step at a time and accepting that it is OK that there are days when I don’t want to leave the house.”

Ryan understands that the system and structure for sports is in place, but also believes that changes towards more inclusion are always worthwhile.

Putting gender-inclusive bathrooms at natatoriums, bringing awareness to the fact that trans athletes are competing and including non-binary athletes in discussions are all topics being discussed for recommended practices for USA Swimming.

Support has come from the University of Michigan athletics department in the form of pronoun usage in team emails and the language they use, along with acceptance from teammates and their coach, Mike Bottom.

“Swimming has granted me many things and I wouldn’t be at the University of Michigan without it. Despite the challenges, I am totally committed to my team and finally connected to the community I am a part of,” Ryan says. “Everyone’s identity is valid and it is possible to have team athletics along with your own individual identity.”

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Las Vegas Raiders head coach resigns after homophobic emails surface

Discovery made during misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team

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Courtesy of ESPN

LAS VEGAS — The head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden resigned his post Monday after an article in the New York Times reported that he frequently used misogynistic and homophobic language directed at Commissioner Roger Goodell and others in the National Football League, (NFL).

The emails were discovered in a workplace misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team the Times reported, but ended up costing Gruden his job when they also showed Gruden denounced the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem among other issues.

In a statement released by the team late Monday, Gruden said; “I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

The sequence of events started last Friday when the Wall Street Journal reported that Gruden used a racist term to describe NFL union chief DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email to the Washington team’s former executive Bruce Allen.

According to the Associated Press, Gruden apologized for his “insensitive remarks” about Smith, saying they were made out of frustration over the 2011 lockout. But the latest emails sent from between 2011-18 when Gruden was an analyst for ESPN show his use of derogatory language went well beyond that.

A league source confirmed the accuracy of the emails to the Associated Press and said they were sent to the Raiders last week. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league hasn’t made the emails public.

The New York Times and the Associated Press both noted that Gruden used a gay slur to insult Goodell and said he was “clueless” and “anti-football.” He also said Goodell shouldn’t have pressured the Rams to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, who was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.

Gruden’s abrupt resignation was announced live on the Colts/Ravens “Monday Night Football” broadcast when the NFL ran multiple LGBTQ-inclusive advertisements, including one featuring an NFL logo wrapped in the colors of the Trans Flag and Rainbow Flag Gay City News Editor Matt Tracy reported.

Raiders owner Mark Davis issued a statement which only said that he accepted Gruden’s resignation. In a separate statement the Raiders announced that special teams and assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia will serve as Interim Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, effective immediately.

“Coach Bisaccia will meet with the media at the regularly scheduled media availability on Wednesday,” the team said.

According to ESPN and the Associated Press, Bisaccia has been a special teams coordinator in the NFL for 19 seasons with the Raiders, Chargers, Dallas and Tampa Bay. He has no head coaching experience but his elevation will allow other assistants in the Raiders organization such as defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to stay in their current roles.

Jon Gruden resigns as Raiders head coach | SC with SVP

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New Zealand university names trans athlete ‘sportswoman of the year’

Laurel Hubbard is first out trans woman to compete in Olympics

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Screenshot via CBS Sports

DUNEDIN, New Zealand — Olympic weightlifter Laurel Hubbard was named “sportswoman of the year” at the prestigious 113-year-old University of Otago and OUSA Blues and Golds Awards event this past week.

The 43-year-old Queenstown, South Island, native was the first openly transgender woman to compete in an Olympics when she competed in the women’s 87kg weightlifting event at the 2021 Tokyo Games.

In a statement to the local newspaper, the Otago Daily Times, Hubbard said she was ‘‘grateful for all of the support and kindness received from the teaching staff and students at Otago University.’’

‘‘It is not possible for athletes to complete at the Olympic level without the encouragement and aroha [a Māori word meaning “love”] of friends, family and supporters.

‘‘This award belongs to everyone who has been part of my Olympic journey,’’ she told the paper.

Hubbard’s participation at the Tokyo Games had provoked controversy as she had prepared for competing as the world’s first out transgender woman Olympian. The director of medicine and science for the International Olympic Committee, Dr. Richard Budgett, directly addressed those who had attacked and mocked the New Zealander and claimed she shouldn’t be competing with cisgender women, saying  “everyone agrees that trans women are women.”

“To put it in a nutshell,” he said, “the IOC had a scientific consensus back in 2015. There are no IOC rules or regulations around transgender participation. That depends on each international federation. So Laurel Hubbard is a woman, is competing under the rules of her federation and we have to pay tribute to her courage and tenacity in actually competing and qualifying for the Games.”

Otago University Students’ Association president Michaela Waite-Harvey told the Otago Daily Times that the Blues awards aim to highlight Otago students excelling in their chosen sport.

‘‘We could think of no-one more worthy of sportswoman of the year than Laurel Hubbard who represented Otago and New Zealand incredibly well at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.’’

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Gold medalist Tom Daley battled COVID in hospital prior to Tokyo games

An x-ray revealed “blotches” on his lungs, and he was kept at the hospital for 10 hours to increase his oxygen levels

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Tom Daley (Photo by sportsphotographer.eu via Bigstock)

LONDON – British Olympic champion diver Tom Daley acknowledged in an recent interview with British newspaper The Times, that he had been secretly rushed to hospital seven months prior to the summer Tokyo Olympic games after contracting the coronavirus.

Daley told the paper “[my] lungs felt pressurised, as if they had sacks of rice around them”, and added: “Every time I stood up, I felt the room spinning and a blinding white light, as if I was going to faint, and as if I couldn’t get enough oxygen into my body.”

He went on to describe his ordeal in graphic details telling Times journalist Jane Mulkerrins that he gave specific instructions to his husband, screenwriter D. Lance Black one night as he headed off to sleep, what to do in the event he quit breathing.

He also told Mulkerrins he was frightened for their son Robbie if he and his husband both contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus, especially after he was rushed to hospital by ambulance unable to breath correctly.

When his head began to feel like it had “a vice tightening around it” and his “oxygen levels were dropping,” it was at that point Daley said he decided to call 111. [The UK’s emergency phone number]

‘My oxygen levels were dropping’

He was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and put on oxygen. An x-ray revealed “blotches” on his lungs, and he was kept at the hospital for 10 hours to increase his oxygen levels, The Times reported.

“I understood how quickly things could potentially go downhill,” said Daley.

“I had flashes of fear about whether I would be put on a ventilator, and my time being up. I was really terrified.”

He also described his reasons for keeping his ordeal secret so that his rivals in his sport wouldn’t know.

The episode kept the Olympian diver out of training for nearly seven months although Daley along with his British teammate diving partner Matty Lee won the gold with a score of 471.81 in the men’s synchronized diving on at the Tokyo 2021 games.

After tough competition in the Men’s 10m platform diving from China’s Cao Yuan who picked up the Gold Medal and his teammate Yang Jian cinching the number two spot with a Silver Medal, the 27-year-old Daley secured a Bronze Medal win with a score of 548.25.

It was the second Olympic Bronze Medal for the Plymouth, England native, in individual diving completion since he won bronze at the London Games in 2012. Daley and his teammate Daniel Goodfellow won a Bronze Medal in the 10m synchronised at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

The Times interview comes as the paper’s magazine is serializing Daley’s new book, Coming Up for Air: What I Learned from Sport, Fame and Fatherhood, which is due to be published by Harper Collins on October 14.

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