In a December 2007 post I talked about the retirement of junior world record holding German pole vaulter Yvonne Buschbaum from international competition for an interesting reason. His transition from female to male.
He said at the time,"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."
Well, two years later he is now the very handsome Balian Buschbaum, and in a diary entry on his website stated, "Courage is the road to freedom. I woke up in complete freedom today. The sky is wide open."
Balian chose his new name in January 2008, after the blacksmith in the movie Kingdom of Heaven.
Since taking his first testosterone shot on Christmas Day 2007, Balian has documented the metamorphosis from Yvonne to the handsome guy he is now. He's appeared on a few talk shows and has received support from his former colleagues in the athletics (track and field) world.
He was required to quit pole vaulting under IAAF rules because testosterone, one of the primary drugs used for a female to male gender change is considered a doping substance. Buschbaum won European championship bronze medals in 1998 and 2002 and had a personal best vault of 4.70 meters (15 feet 4.2 inches)
On the other side of the gender fence Balian wore his hair shortly-cropped, but now he has facial hair, growing muscles and a deeper voice to complement his new ID card. He's also endured the initial surgeries to complete his metamorphosis from female to male.
Thanks to his gender transformation, he also has a ringside seat concerning the effects of testosterone because he's living through the effects of the changes. He told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung that "I felt like an over-bred pitbull."
He also noted that he was far more aggressive in training and could jump with poles Yvonne Buschbaum could only dream of using.
He changed his mind about retiring from the sport, and is staying in shape by continuing to vault in preparation for his new role as a coach for the USC Mainz club in central Germany.