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Young athletes on competing after coming out

Morant, Newman prep for college after winning Team DC scholarships

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Team DC college scholarships, gay news, Washington Blade
Freedom Morant and Jack Newman won Team DC college scholarships. (Photos courtesy the subjects)

Last spring at the Team DC Night of Champions, six openly LGBT local high school student-athletes stepped forward to receive their Team DC college scholarships.

Several of the awardees took to the podium and shared their stories to a rapt audience of adult LGBT athletes. Their stories were filled with acceptance, support and a love of sports. Supporting them from the sidelines that night were the parents of the young athletes.

Freedom Morant grew up in Oxon Hill, Md., and began her athletic career at the age of three in basketball and eventually soccer. A near-drowning experience in Florida at age five led to her mother putting her in swim lessons.

This fall, Morant will leave for Frostburg State University where she has earned a swimming scholarship. The road to getting there included some obstacles, including overcoming a learning disability, but sports were a big part of the journey.

“Sports have helped me to get to where I want to be, and that’s in college,” says Morant. “Playing sports has also been a stress reliever. I like that competing gives me the opportunity to express myself.”

A recent graduate of Friendly High School, Morant was a multi-sport athlete. One year in tennis and basketball, three years in softball and four years in swimming. She was also a manager for the volleyball team.

In addition to high school sports, she was competing in club swimming, first at Elite Rays Swim Club and then at Manta Dive N Aquatics.

“I feel free when I am swimming, like nothing else in life matters,” Morant says. “It’s a comfortable home and I was meant to be in the water.”

Morant was out to her teammates in high school and says she wasn’t really challenged by anyone because there are a lot of out high schoolers in Prince Georges County. Her mom has been there all along, volunteering and cheering at competitions.

“When I came out to her, she said she already knew and was just waiting for me to tell her,” says Morant. “I couldn’t ask for a stronger support system.”

Her mom accompanied her to receive her Team DC scholarship and Morant was excited to meet other out athletes.

“While I had classmates who were out, there weren’t a lot of out athletes,” Morant says. “It was a really comfortable experience at the awards ceremony, and I was grateful to be there.”

This summer, Morant is lifeguarding, teaching swim lessons and training in the pool every day. She plans to study early childhood education at Frostburg, specifically K-3.

“I like working with kids and the idea of educating them in their formative years,” says Morant. “They need a good support system and I want them to be able to achieve their potential.”

At the end of August, Morant will leave for Frostburg where she will live in a dorm with other athletes. Team dynamics will play a factor, but she hopes to specialize in the 100 butterfly, 50 and 100 freestyles and the 200 individual medley.

“I am excited to be able to compete on the collegiate level,” Morant says. “I have looked at the school records and I want to see how far I can take my swimming.”

Jack Newman played on the girls’ soccer team at George C. Marshall High School through his junior year before deciding he wanted to focus on club soccer. A goalkeeper, he tried out for a boy’s travel soccer team and made the cut.

Growing up in Vienna, Va., Newman participated in soccer, basketball and wrestling. He found sports to be a great physical outlet for his energy levels.

Wanting a higher level of competition, Newman began attending summer sports camps at age 10 and was competing in basketball and soccer on girls’ club teams.

He was also on the high school wrestling team, which was separated by weight class rather than gender. He chose not to begin using hormones and instead relied on building muscle through weight training.

“I am cis passing and I didn’t want the acne side effects that can occur with hormones. I don’t feel like I was at a disadvantage in wrestling,” says Newman. “I have intentions of eventually going on testosterone, but I want to do it on my own time.”

He says that living in a progressive area has fostered a respectful transition. His only bad experiences came at the hands of opposing sports teams.

For the past two months, Newman has been playing in the Summer of Freedom League, which is hosted by the LGBT-based Federal Triangles Soccer Club.

“It is a much more comfortable experience to play sports with other like-minded people,” Newman says. “The sense of community is much stronger in LGBT sports.

Newman was also accompanied by his parents at the Team DC scholarship reception and says they have given him unconditional love and support.

“I liked hearing the stories of the other athletes that spoke at the awards reception and it was great having family there,” says Newman. “My dad is gay. In his own conversation where he came out to his brothers and my grandma, my grandma also came out. Home is a very welcoming environment.”

The same welcoming environment will be waiting for him when he begins attending Virginia Commonwealth University. At freshman orientation, in addition to being asked his name, he was also asked his pronoun and gender identity.

“The school is progressive, and it feels very inclusive there,” Newman says. “There was even an LGBTQ+ mixer during orientation.”

His experience at VCU will begin with a week-long Ram Camp leadership training where he will acclimate to the campus climate. Newman, who also won a SMYAL Youth Leadership scholarship, will be bringing his own experiences in from working as a SMYAL Peer Health Fellow this summer and serving as a youth ambassador to NOVA Pride.

His assigned housing for the fall semester is an apartment suite with other trans men and he expects to major in women and gender sexuality studies. He is also interested in producing circuit parties and will return to D.C. in October to stage crew people at the Miss Adams Morgan Pageant.

“I will be continuing my sports career at VCU by joining an intramural soccer team and checking out Stonewall Kickball Richmond,” says Newman. “I am looking forward to what the future holds.”

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Politics

Caitlyn Jenner celebrates FINA ban on Trans swimmers on Twitter

“[…] what’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period,” Jenner tweeted

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Screenshot/YouTube Fox News

Former Olympian and one-time California Republican gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner enraged Trans activists Monday after she tweeted her approval of the FINA vote Sunday that essentially bans Trans women from participating and competing as collegiate swimmers.

“It worked! I took a lot of heat – but what’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period,” Jenner tweeted Sunday after the international athletic organization announced its vote to ban trans athletes.

The Swimming’s world governing body voted to restrict transgender athletes from elite women’s competitions. The final vote tally of the representatives was 71.5% approval for the new policy which requires transgender athletes show that “they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.”

“We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions,” FINA’s president, Husain Al-Musallam, said in a statement.

The organisation is maintaining that it was necessary to use sex and sex-linked traits to determine eligibility criteria because of the “performance gap” that appears between males and females during puberty.

Jenner’s appearances on the Fox News Network over the past six months have been unrelenting attacks on Trans athletes, especially University of Pennsylvania Women’s Team swimmer Lia Thomas. Jenner also appeared on the network to defend her attacks on Trans athletes.

“We must protect women’s sports. We cannot bow down to the radical left wing woke world and the radical politically charged agenda of identity politics,” Jenner tweeted. In another tweet she said;

“Thank you @seanhannity and @HeyTammyBruce for having a conversation grounded in common sense. All we want to do is protect women’s and girls sports! It’s that simple. And calling out the libelous, defamatory lies of @PinkNews and @emilychudy@benjamincohen

Jenner has been asked about her position on the multiple pieces of anti-Trans youth sports legislation across the United States. She responded that she saw it as a question of fairness saying that she opposed biological boys who are Trans- competing in girls’ sports in school.

“It just isn’t fair,” Jenner said adding, “and we have to protect girls’ sports in our school.”

In April the Fox network hired Jenner as on-air contributor role with her first appearance on Hannity.

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Sports

World swimming body FINA votes to ban Trans athletes

Says policy necessary because of ‘biological performance gap’

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FINA's president, Husain Al-Musallam, announcing the new policy Sunday in Budapest (Screenshot/YouTube 10 News First)

The Swimming’s world governing body FINA meeting in the Hungarian capital city voted to restrict transgender athletes from elite women’s competitions. The final vote tally of the representatives was 71.5% approval for the new policy which requires transgender athletes show that “they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.”

Enactment of that requirement effectively eliminates trans women’s eligibility to compete in the women’s category.

Tanner Stages describe the physical changes people undergo during puberty.

“We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions,” FINA’s president, Husain Al-Musallam, said in a statement.

The organisation is maintaining that it was necessary to use sex and sex-linked traits to determine eligibility criteria because of the “performance gap” that appears between males and females during puberty.

“Without eligibility standards based on biological sex or sex-linked traits, we are very unlikely to see biological females in finals, on podiums, or in championship positions; and in sports and events involving collisions and projectiles, biological female athletes would be at greater risk of injury,” the statement from FINA’s new policy read.

Athlete Ally, which advocates for Trans athletes responded:

“FINA’s new eligibility criteria for transgender athletes and athletes with intersex variations is deeply discriminatory, harmful, unscientific and not in line with the 2021 International Olympic Committee framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations,” said Anne Lieberman, Director of Policy and Programs at Athlete Ally.

“This sudden and discriminatory decision is a blatant attack on transgender athletes who have worked to comply with longstanding policies that have allowed them to participate for years without issue,” said Joni Madison, Human Rights Campaign Interim President. “This policy is an example of swimming organizations caving to the avalanche of ill-informed, prejudiced attacks targeted at one particular transgender swimmer. We urge the FINA to rethink its policy and ensure inclusion for all athletes — including transgender women – and allow them to participate in sports free from discrimination, abuse and harassment.

“To the young athletes who may be disheartened by this policy, know that we know and believe that every young person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and that transgender kids, like their friends, deserve the same chances to learn sportsmanship, self-discipline, and teamwork, and to build a sense of belonging with their peers,” Madison added.

Swimming Body FINA Votes To Segregate Trans Athletes | 10 News First:

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Sports

Poll finds majority of Americans oppose trans athletes in female sports teams

Washington Post and University of Maryland conducted survey

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Pennsylvania State University swimmer Lia Thomas competed on the women’s swim team and became the first transgender person to win an NCAA Division 1 national championship. (Screen capture via YouTube))

As the nationwide debate over transgender athletes’ involvement in sports teams corresponding to their gender identity continues, the Washington Post on Tuesday released a new poll identifying where Americans stand on the issue.

The new poll, conducted by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland, found that a majority of Americans oppose trans women and girls’ involvement in female sports. 

According to the poll, which surveyed more than 1,500 Americans, 55 percent were opposed to trans athletes participating in female high school sports. Similarly, the poll found that 58 percent were opposed to trans athletes competing on both college and professional female sports teams. 

The only sports category in which there was not majority opposition was on the question of trans athletes’ involvement in youth female sports teams. Forty-nine percent opposed their involvement at this level, while 33 percent supported it. Seventeen percent answered as having no opinion on the topic.

The poll’s findings contrast a growing overall acceptance among the population for those who identify as trans. 

Roughly 40 percent of those polled by the Post said that greater acceptance of trans people in society was good, compared to 25 percent who believed such to be bad. The findings remained relatively consistent with polling done earlier this year by the Pew Research Center that found similar attitudes that favored accepting trans individuals.

And as the share of young Americans identifying as trans has begun to rise, so too have the rates of Americans in recent years that have favored more social acceptance. However, the country’s perception on the issue of trans women and girls competing in female sports has remained stagnant. Some of the most prominent debate came earlier this year after Pennsylvania State University swimmer Lia Thomas competed on the women’s swim team and became the first trans person to win an NCAA Division 1 national championship.

“Trans women competing in women’s sports does not threaten women’s sports as a whole because trans women are a very small minority of all athletes and the NCAA rules regarding trans women competing in women’s sports have been around for 10-plus years,” Thomas said in an interview with ESPN. “And we haven’t seen any massive wave of trans women dominating.”

The results of the poll and renewed debates come as state legislatures across the country have pushed forward efforts in recent years to address what some lawmakers see as an unfair playing field presented by trans athletes’ presence on sports teams. Such efforts have risen in both prominence and frequency as the conversation has continued and remained persistent.

Just one week before the Post released their poll, the Louisiana State Legislature passed a bill that would prohibit trans athletes from competing on women’s and girls’ sports teams at youth, high school and college levels. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards declined to veto or sign the bill, citing overwhelming support for the bill in the legislature that would have overridden his potential veto. Without requisite opposition, Louisiana will become the 18th state to enact such legislation.

Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, pushed back on both the legislature’s decision to pass the bill as well as Edwards’ decision not to block its passage.

“The radical politicians that engineered this bill are targeting kids who just want to play sports for the same reason all students do — to learn the values of teamwork, to face healthy competition, and to have fun,” Oakley said in a statement. “These children were failed by their leaders.”

Lawmakers in some states that have yet to pass restrictions on trans athletes’ involvement in sports have continued their attempts to do so.

On the same day of the Louisiana bill’s passage, the Pennsylvania Senate voted to advance similar legislation to mandate students in public schools and universities compete on sports teams consistent with their assigned sex at birth. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has since indicated his intent to prevent the bill’s passage into law.

“Pennsylvania’s Republican lawmakers are celebrating Pride Month by advancing legislation targeting trans kids,” Wolf wrote on Twitter. “As I’ve said, I will veto this bill if it makes it to my desk.”

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