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Trans Athlete Chris Mosier on Qualifying for the Olympic Trials

In 2015, Chris Mosier became the first known transgender athlete to make a United States national men’s team. He has been a part of the national team in the duathlon and the triathlon six times, and he is the first transgender athlete sponsored by Nike.

So what better time than months before the Olympic trials to try a new sport?

Meet Mosier the racewalker.

In his first competition as a racewalker, a 5K in September, he became the masters national champion. In his second, a 50K in October, one of the two men he was keeping pace with asked if it was harder to come out as a trans man or as a racewalker, he recalled, laughing. He qualified for the Olympic trials in that race, ranking 12th in the nation, after beginning training in his new sport in May.

His third race was on Saturday: the Olympic trials, a 50-kilometer racewalk in Santee, Calif., near San Diego. He pulled out early in the race, he said, after tearing the meniscus in his right knee.

But by starting the race, Mosier became the first transgender athlete to qualify for and participate in an Olympic trials in the gender with which he identifies. He is also the first trans man to compete with men at that level.

It’s a world away from his steady diet of sprint distance duathlons, which consist of a running leg, a cycling leg and then another running leg.

We spoke to Mosier recently, before his bittersweet trials appearance on Saturday.

This interview was condensed and edited for clarity.

So how do you stumble into racewalking?

A friend in Chicago who is a 50-kilometer racewalker asked if I’d ever thought of racewalking. He said he thought I’d be really good at it. That’s kind of all it took — someone having that belief in me and saying I might be good at something. I can always improve as a runner, but this was a new type of challenge.

In duathlons and triathlons, you usually run three to 10 kilometers. How did you bump up to 50 kilometers?

There is something about the distance that appeals to me. I’ve been doing sprint duathlons that are fast and furious. But what I really love is the training for these longer races over extended periods of time. There’s something very therapeutic about it.

I had a short runway leading up to qualification, and I went into the race undertrained. My first race was five kilometers, and I became the masters national champion for my age group. My second race was 50 kilometers, and that’s what got me here.

But moving from five kilometers to 50 kilometers? I don’t recommend it.

How has the sport accepted you, both as a new athlete in the sport and as a trans athlete?

This community has been incredible. I’ve had a really great experience in triathlon and duathlon — the sports that I was doing through transition. Those sports were with me as I went through my process and through changing my name and pronouns and categories, and I felt very supported.

I wasn’t sure what to expect moving to a new sport, but I’ve been met with such a warm welcome. Everyone has been offering tips, and they are willing to help me out however I need. I genuinely think people want to see me succeed.

So you’ve moved from a fast and furious mind-set to a bit slower and steadier. How do the races compare to duathlons and triathlons?

Running is something that I can go and do mindlessly. With racewalking, I have to be really attentive to every motion, to every piece of form. That’s the difference between racewalking and running, one foot on the ground at all times. It’s not a movement that comes naturally to me or, I would guess, to many humans. I’m thinking constantly about my form.

And it has only been a few months. How did you decide to attempt to become an Olympic trials qualifier?

This was a new type of challenge. In the duathlon, the world championships are the highest I can go, and who wouldn’t want to be an Olympian?

A part of me is goal-driven for myself. At the same time, I know that in my successes are the successes of my community as well. Any time I can make it to a new level it’ll be easier for the next trans athlete to make it to the next level.

I did not start off on this journey thinking I was going to be an Olympian, though. My goal was to make it to the trials. I’m definitely the least experienced person here. There’s a person that has qualified for nine Olympic trials, and I’ll be there racing in my first.

Most athletes are pretty quiet in the days leading up to a race. Your social channels have been filled with updates on the South Dakota House vote on House Bill 1057, which would criminalize health care providers who prescribe puberty blockers or hormone injection.

There’s no opportunity for me to go silent because now is the time more than ever that I need to speak up. There are now at least eight states in the country that have a bill on the table that would effectively prevent trans athletes in high school from participating in sports in the gender with which they identify.

It’s so important for me to use my platform to speak out against these bills and make sure that people are informed.

What’s next?

The focus will shift back to duathlon in addition to racewalking. I’ll try to make Team U.S.A. for 2021 in the spring, and the world championships are in the fall. I’m also really just figuring out how U.S.A. Track & Field works with racewalking events, and I’m totally fine sounding like a supernovice.

For me, it’s all about making a pathway for all the trans athletes that come after me.

Source: NY times

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