Ricardo del Real last November became the first openly transgender man on the Mexican Olympic Committee when he received a document with a male gender marker that recognizes him as a permanent member of this organization that oversees the development, protection and promotion of sports in the Aztec nation.
Del Real joined the committee in 2001, and had been recognized as a woman. Del Real began his transition two years later with a variety of treatments; he legally changed his name and presented as a man physically and socially.
Del Real worked in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee and Mexico’s National Council to Prevent Discrimination (CONAPRED) throughout his transition.
“When I told the International Olympic Committee about my transition I had their support 110 percent,” Del Real told Desastre, a Mexican publication. “In the case of the Mexican Olympic Committee there were no protocols in place, they were literally figuring out how to address the issue with me. We were working hand in hand and an agreement was reached.”
Del Real said Mexican Olympic Committee Secretary General Mario García de la Torre announced at the organization’s last meeting that he had legally changed his gender. De la Torre also said Del Real’s permanent membership would continue and there was no need for any discussion about it.
The former athlete revealed to Canal Once, a Mexican television station, in his first national interview as a man that he was afraid during his transition and urged all social and political classes to become more sensitized to trans issues. Del Real also added trans issues in Mexico are still “in diapers,” despite the efforts of the media and activists.
Del Real declared in reference to his experience with the Mexican Olympic Committee that there had never been anyone in the organization who put a face to the trans community “because there is a lot of fear, because there was not a lot of information and because of that there could be a lot of discrimination. It is a matter of providing the right information, training people to ensure sports is for everyone.”
The former athlete sought to make sports inclusive for the entire LGBTI community, although he stressed trans people face more difficulties due to the hormonal processes they experience.
“The IOC, therefore, since 2014 has declared medical and scientific practices should be implemented to address this issue and make conditions the same as they are for cisgender athletes,” Del Real told Desastre. “These protocols not being implemented in most of the world and Mexico has not yet signed onto them.”
Since he began in sports in the 1980s when he was only 9-years-old, it was always pointed out to him that taekwondo was a sport exclusively for men. Then, with the passage of time, relatives and friends began to feel proud of Mónica, his birth name, when they saw his victories that he achieved in the 1990s.
As an athlete, he won three bronze medals in different taekwondo world championships: Athens in 1991, Manila in 1995 and Hong Kong in 1997. He won the 1997 World Cup Taekwondo Championship in Cairo and achieved similar titles in events that include the 1993 World Games in The Hague, the 1993 Central American and Caribbean Games in Ponce (Puerto Rico); the Pan American Championship in Havana in 1996, Heredia (Costa Rica) in 1994 and Colorado Springs (U.S.) in 1992, among many others.
“It was Monica who gave face and Del Real was behind when I was competing, now its the other way around,” joked Del Real, who is originally from Aguascalientes, as he revealed he feels very happy with the final result of his transition. “I have been born again. I am living through a stage with many firsts.”
Del Real is now a member of Mexican Sports Confederation’s Executive Council and a Latin American ambassador for the IOC’s Athlete Career Program that helps athletes after they retire from sports. Del Real feels he is now living a harmonious life and he used his Desastre interview to send a very clear message to the entire LGBTI community: “Simply be yourself, live your life to the fullest and don’t be afraid to do so.”