By now, the everyone knows about former Olympic champion, Bruce Jenner’s transformation into Caitlyn Jenner. In April of 2015, the former decathalon star of the 1976 Olympics “came out” during a “20/20″ interview with Diane Sawyer, saying she had gender dysmorphia since childhood and that,”for all intents and puposes, I’m a woman.”
This obviously threw the world for a loop, but Bruce/Caitlyn were far from being the only, or first athlete to be transgender. Here are 5 other famous athletes that were born as males, but have decided to live and compete as females.
In 1975, Richards had a sex-change operation and became a woman. She wasn’t allowed to participate in the 1976 U.S. Open by the United Sates Tennis Association, but she fought the ban and in 1977, the New York Supreme Court ruled in her favor. She coached Martina Navratilova to two Wimbledon Championships, and was inducted in the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
Born as Johnny Saeula in Samoa, she was the world’s first transgender national soccer player to compete in a men’s FIFA World Cup qualifying match in 2011.
After racking up a string of wins fighting in MMA, a reporter threatened to expose her as a transgender, so she came out publicly, and is the first MMA fighter to do so in the history of the sport.
This golfer from Denmark had gender-reassignment surgery in 1995. She became the second transgender athlete to be accepted into a professional sporting competition, Renee Richards was first. In 2004 The Ladies European Tour allowed her to compete. Prior to Jenner coming out, many people saw Bagger as the most prominent transgender athlete in the world.
Janae Marie Kroc
Matt Kroczaleski stunned the power lifting and bodybuilding communities last July, when he went public on Instagram stating, he was a “Transgender/genderfluid Alpha male” and a “girly girl Lesbian, in a male body.”
He went on to say, “Exactly what I need to do to be at peace with myself is something I am still not 100% certain of. Transitioning is a very difficult process and even tougher at an older age (I’m 42). … And living as a transgender woman that is honest about her situation is very difficult and can be dangerous. I am a very realistic person and I don’t think the transitioning will magically solve all of my issues without creating new challenges. Whatever path I choose there will be sacrifices to be made.”
I have to say, this last transformation definitely shocked me, but it only shows another example of why we shouldn’t judge people based upon their outward appearance.
Personally, this has no effect on my life, and I am a firm believer of “Live and Let Live” as long as you aren’t hurting anyone in the process.
I think these athletes have shown a tremendous amount of courage and fortitude, to be able to face the world’s scrutiny and live as they want to live. They have opened the doors, so to speak, and it won’t surprise me in the least, when more athletes come forward in the future, declaring that they are transgenders as well.