Schuyler Bailar, the first openly transgender NCAA Division I male swimmer, spoke to the school community via live webinar on Thursday, April 29, about his experiences, struggles, and overall journey as a transgender athlete, Asian American, and mixed-race individual.
Mr. Bailar, whose engaging convocation address yielded positive reactions from students and faculty, also answered questions from the community covering a wide range of topics.
A 2019 graduate of Harvard, Mr. Bailar competed for the Crimson men’s swim team for all four years of college. Mr. Bailar also is half Korean, and he spoke about the intersectionality among his different identities as a trans man and as both a white and Asian man.
“That has been something that's been difficult for me, and I've had learned how to exist in that in-between and understand that my race and my identity is something for me to proclaim as my own, as opposed to fit this box that other people expect from me,” he said. “And that really helped me better understand my gender identity as well.”
Responding to questions from students, Mr. Bailar talked about the privilege that comes with being a man and the physiological and societal differences between being a trans male athlete and a trans female athlete.
This concept turned the discussion toward the legal ramifications affecting trans people in America and the especially outspoken opposition to trans women and trans girls competing on female sports teams. There are 144 anti-transgender bills being pushed through state legislators around the country, Mr. Bailar said, and many are unfair to trans people and would violate their basic rights.
Mr. Bailar concluded the convocation by sharing his story about coming out to his family and the challenges that came with doing so in a half-Korean household.
“You're not alone here,” he said in closing. “We're all here together, we're all doing this together, and there are absolutely Asian American transgender people. There are Asian transgender people, and there are Korean American transgender people, and their stories need to be told, and so that's why I share my story as proof.”
Immediately after the convocation, Mr. Bailar spoke in break-out groups with the Athletics Department and student athletes; students in Spectrum, the gender-sexuality alliance on campus; and members of the Pan-Asian Student Alliance.
Mr. Bailar’s visit was made possible thanks to the Hubbard Speakers Series, made possible by a gift from Robert P. Hubbard ’47.