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Transgender Role Models In Sports

As a kid, I looked up to the female powerhouses that surrounded sports. Erin Andrews will always be my role model and I will forever remember watching her report for the first time and realizing I wanted to do the job she was doing one day. But transgender children when I was growing up never really had anyone to look up to. Personally, I do not think these athletes get as much coverage in the media as they should. And part of that is the fact that they go against social norms. Thankfully in today’s society there are finally some big transgender role models that children can look up to. 

One of the first open and out trans women was Renee Richards. She was a tennis player who played in La Jolla Tennis Tournament Championships where she destroyed her competition and gained national recognition for her game.


tennis ball on tennis racket
Photo by PIxabay from Pexels

At the time she was playing, being transgender was viewed as insanity and after she came out she was ridiculed and forced to end her amazing tennis career and become an ophthalmologist. However, Richards paved the way for many other athletes like her and gave them the courage to come out and be proud of who they are. 

There are so many trans women in sports- today, there is finally some representation for transgender children without as much ridicule as there was in Richards’ time. Many volleyball players like Tifanny Abreu and Alessia Almeri have gotten increasing coverage in the media because of the amazing things they have done in their careers.


Sports Volleyball Girl
Tiffany Meh / Spoon

Abreu set a record as the first trans woman to play in the Brazilian Women’s Volleyball Superliga and broke the record for amount of points scored in a match. Almeri also set history as the first out transgender woman in the Italian club Hermaea Olbia. Both of these women have done incredible things for trans people in their country and in the world that I think they deserve more recognition in the media than the lack of coverage they are getting.

Unfortunately in the United States, there are no large role models for trans people in sports. But in places like Canada, Denmark, the UK and many other countries, transgender people have some representation. For Denmark and golf, Mianne Bagger is a big role model.


Kellyn Simpkin-Strong Ass Powerful Girl
Kellyn Simpkin / Her Campus

She moved to Australia when she was 12 and has been playing golf ever since. She was the first out trans woman to play in a professional golf tournament in the world. Bagger has been an activist for transitioned women in golf for many years and she continues to be such an active athlete and role model for transgender people.

Whether you’re a fan of volleyball or golf, there is someone to view as a role model. For transgender people, there is amazing representation happening in different activities and careers. Society is changing and I’m so grateful that I get to live in a time where my generation is becoming more accepting of these amazing athletes rather than judging them like they did in the time of Renee Richards. These amazing women deserve all of the recognition for their amazing accomplishments both on and off the field.

I'm a sophomore at the University of Kansas studying News and Information, Sports Management and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies! I am also a member of Alpha Delta Pi and am extremely passionate about women who work in sports!
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