German Olympian Yvonne Buschbaum, the world junior record holder in the pole vault, announced her retirement November 21 from the sport. She finished third in the European championships in 1998 in Budapest, Hungary, won the European junior title in 1999 and placed sixth at the Sydney Games in 2000. Buschbaum's best year was 2002, when she finished second in the European Indoor Championships in Vienna, Austria and third at the European Championships contested on home soil in Munich, Germany.
The interesting twist in this story is that the other reason she cited for her retirement decision in addition to her persistent injuries was a desire to transition to male.
In a statement from her web site, Buschbaum said, "I feel as if I am a man and have to live my life in the body of a woman. I am aware of the fact that transsexuality is a fringe issue, and I do not want to be responsible for it remaining on the fringe."
Buschbaum also asked for respect for her decision and urged observers not to draw false conclusions. "I do not dope," she said and added that her upcoming hormone treatments to facilitate her transition contributed to her decision to quit along with the persistent injury.
As I keep saying over and over, transsexuality is an international medical and social issue that cuts across class, race, religious and geographic boundaries. Just as transpeople exist who are in politics, business, education, law, and the arts and sciences, we have transgender athletes as well. It's why the IOC and other international sports governing bodies allow transgender people to participate.
I wish Yvonne much happiness and success as a new chapter unfolds in her life.