by: JOSHUA RAMIREZ/Sports Editor
Chris Mosier has made the decision to live his life as he sees fit, a decision that is writing history and changing the future at the same time.
Mosier is a tri-athlete and coach based in New York City. He grew up in Chicago, Ill, and graduated from Northern Michigan University. He has been the recipient of numerous honors recently, including being named to Advocate Magazine’s 40 under 40 and being named the 2014 Best Personal Trainer in the northeast by Competitor Magazine.
But one of his greatest honors came when he made the USA National Triathlon Team, the first transgender man ever to do so.
Mosier started running competitively in 2008. He began running in marathons and ultra-marathons. But out of desire for an even bigger challenge, Mosier began competing in triathlons. He earned a guaranteed spot in a 2009 New York triathlon and decided to accept the challenge with full enthusiasm. After some quick success in the sport, Mosier was hooked.
“I decided to buy a bike, teach myself how to swim, and try to become a triathlete,” Mosier told the Plainsman Press in a recent interview. “I joined a triathlon club and started training with others, and ended up winning my category in my first triathlon. That was enough to hook me on the sport.”
In 2010, Mosier would face another challenge, one that would change his life and athletic career forever when he decided to undergo gender transition.
Before 2010, Mosier was living under the label of woman, a label which he says had, in a way, been forced on him. But he says that he never identified as female, and, as a result, he found himself stuck between where he was and where he wanted to be.
“I never identified as a woman, and I would hesitate to say I was living as a woman, because I was really existing more in a middle space,” Mosier said. “In gendered spaces such as locker rooms, restrooms, and athletic teams, I was forced to have that identity. It was exhausting and confusing, because for a long time I didn’t even have the language to express or explain how I felt. I simply always felt like I was me. The problem was when others didn’t see me the way I saw myself.”
Mosier, 35, spent a lot of time contemplating how his decision to begin the transition from female to male would affect not only his career as an athlete but his entire life. In the end, Mosier made the decision that would allow him to live comfortably in his own skin for the rest of his life.
“Being an athlete is a primary part of my identity, so I spent a lot of time thinking about how the transition would impact that,” Mosier said. “Beyond athletics, I thought about how my family and partner would accept it, how I would be able to navigate my work situation through a transition, and about my safety. In the end, I decided I needed to be comfortable with myself, regardless of what others thought.”
As an athlete, Mosier was worried how his transition would affect his performance on a competitive level and wasn’t getting much positive feed back from people around him. But true to his competitive nature, Mosier powered forward and proved that he would not be detered in his pursuit to be great.
“Many people said I was doomed to be a “middle of the pack” guy, and that did not sit well with me,” said Mosier. “So I began to use that as inspiration in my training to really go for it and put in the hard work necessary to do better.”
Another factor Mosier says has played a part in his success is being comfortable on the course, and being able to devote all his concentration to getting better every day.
“I think part of this is also due to my increased levels of comfort in training and racing,” explained Mosier. “Whereas, before transition, I would be thinking of gender constantly during a race. Now I am comfortable with myself, which has enabled me to focus more on performance.”
Mosier has had more than just a little success following his transition, making the trans100 list and even being inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in 2014 for his achievements in sports, as well as his advocacy work regarding transgender athletes.
Mosier is the founder of TransAthletes.com and the Executive Director of GO! Athletes, two tools Mosier hopes will assist him in helping other trans athletes who may be going through some of the same obstacles he has been through.
“TransAthletes.com is a resource to find information about trans inclusion in athletics at various levels of play,” Mosier explained. “This site pulls together existing information in one central location to help people understand the policies already in place, as well as give organizations without a policy a starting point in creating an inclusive one.”
Much like the TransAthlete.com website, GO! Athletes, a network of current and former LGBTQ student athletes, has a main objective of acting as an advocate for trans athletes by promoting not only inclusion but education.
“I focus a lot of my sports energy on creating safer spaces in athletics through visibility, education and advocacy,” explains Mosier, who went on to mention a new mentorship program that GO! Athletes will be starting this month which he believes will have a strong impact on the LGBTQ athletic community.
“We are launching a national mentorship program this month to connect with LGBTQ athletes across the nation,” says Mosier. “I’m really excited. It’s going to be a game-changer for young athletes.”
After all that Mosier has achieved on his own personal journey, as well as all the work he has done as an advocate for trans athletes nationwide, one of Mosier’s greatest achievements came in June of 2015 when he became the first-ever transgender man to make the U.S. National Triathlon Team.
“This is a dream come true,” Mosier said. “It’s the payoff of a lot of hours of hard work. It always feels good to accomplish a goal, and it certainly feels significant to accomplish this.”
But with every goal achieved comes another mountain to climb. That is something Mosier found out when he learned that even though he had qualified under all guidelines to race in the National Qualifier, he may still be barred from running with Team U.S.A in 2016, due to a rule system that is inconsistent, to say the least.
“The policies and recommendations in place are confusing, inconsistently enforced, and irrelevant to my performance,” explained Mosier. “It’s frustrating to think I may be banned from competition because of my body.”
Even with the frustrating and confusing situation Mosier finds himself in, while trying to qualify for Team U.S.A, he said he still believes that some real good is coming from this situation.
“This is a positive moment,” Mosier said. “There is already international discussion as a result of my being in a position to compete in a World Championship competition.”
Even with his future with the Team USA riddled with uncertainty, as someone who didn’t have an example to follow, Mosier says that he hopes other trans athletes can look at him and believe that they can achieve anything, living comfortably the way they truly feel they should.
“I think we are on the verge of change,” Mosier says “I hope that I can help push that conversation forward and help to establish better policies for trans inclusion at the international level. I want to be the person I wish I saw and knew before I transitioned. Plus, once there’s a first, there can be many more. I hope that this will inspire other athletes to continue to play the sports they love and compete through transition.”