Sunday, June 24, 2012

Keelin's Olympic Quest Is A Big Fracking Deal

I was disappointed about hearing the news that Keelin didn't qualify for the Olympic team in hammer throw despite his lifetime best throw of 231 feet 11 inches and finished fifth in the US Olympic Trials. 

So unless a trans athlete somewhere else on the planet makes their nation's Olympic team, we will not see a trans athlete marching into London's Olympic Stadium in a few weeks.

When I started writing about Keelin Godsey's quest to make the US Olympic team in the hammer throw, I got conflicting comments from elements of the trans community people about it.  Some were bothered by the fact he was a transman competing in a women's hammer throw event.  Others I don't know what their problem was but I suspect was jealousy.

"I've still done more than many people who are trans have," Godsey said in an interview. "I've competed at the highest level. I couldn't be prouder."

And I'm proud of you as well Keelin along with other trans people who see the big picture.

Bottom line is that Olympians are considered elite athletes and the dedication and hard work required just to make an Olympic team is nothing to be dismissed.  Keelin came 11 agonizing inches from making his Olympic dream come true and making trans and sporting history in the process.   

So yes haters, Keelin's attempt to compete in the Olympics is a big fracking deal.

When my people were fighting for their human rights coverage in the last century, it was Jesse Owens quadruple gold medal 1936 Berlin Olympic performance and continued success of black athletes in Olympic competition that was a building block in the eventual breaking down of Jim Crow segregation in the United States and garnering support for African Americans from people fence sitting on the issue.

You also have to take note of the fact that when Keelin began his transition, the NCAA had no policies in place concerning trans athletes.   Thanks to Godsey coming out at the Division III level in 2005 and later Kye Allums at the Division I athletic level, the NCAA now has implemented policies covering transitioning athletes.  

In addition, various international athletic governing bodies such as the International Olympic Committee and countless others are adapting their policies so that they open the doors for transpeople who wish to compete in their sports.

That's important for our trans younglings who are now entering middle and high school and would like to play sports like their peers or have Olympic dreams of their own.   Because the various state high school athletic governing bodies are in sync with or mirror NCAA rules, these trans younglings who have sporting dreams now have the ability to pursue them.

They also have role models in Keelin, Kye and others to look up to as well.   I also see participation in sports by transpeople as a way to help us get over those shame and guilt issues we struggle with.

Transpeople are on the verge of a tremendous wave of human rights success as the decades old smear and fear tactics and lies of our opponents are debunked and discredited.   The more we are seen doing ordinary things, as part of the culture, and doing what we can to uplift ourselves, our communities and the countries we inhabit as we strive to participate in the greater society, the better. 

Athletic participation has been the road other marginalized groups have used as a pathway to greater visibility and human rights coverage, and it's past time we transfolks did so as well.  

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