The first trans athlete to compete on an NCAA Division 1 men’s team opens up

March 31 is the International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day dedicated to recognizing transgender and non-binary people around the world and acknowledging the work that still needs to be done to achieve justice for transgender people. In The Know will be celebrating trans stories during the month of March in a series called “Trans Visibility Matters,” in collaboration with the Phluid Project.

Schuyler Bailar wants you to know he didn’t simply wake up one day and “decide” to be a man.

“Being transgender is not a choice,” he told In The Know. “I have always been myself — a boy. I just haven’t always had the resources, language, courage or safety to be able to explain that identity to other people or even to myself.”

The 24-year-old is the first openly transgender NCAA Division 1 swimmer to compete for all four years of college. Since graduating from Harvard University in 2019, he has traveled internationally to talk about inclusion, body positivity and mental health awareness.

Bailar has come a long way since the days he spent Googling “transgender swimmer” and never finding results.

“I always encourage other folks to call trans people by the name and pronouns that we currently use as opposed to ones you might have used in the past,” he said. “This is the most simple and impactful way to say, ‘Hi, I see you for who you are.'”

His upcoming book, Obie is Man Enough, is a fictionalized story based on Bailar’s experience.

“Being transgender is just who you are,” he said simply. “Being transgender is just that — being transgender.”

Visit In The Know on March 31 for a special roundtable discussion Live Stream featuring Schuyler and other trans voices from around the world.

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If you enjoyed reading this interview, check out In The Know’s conversation with Mila Jam.

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