G-block: Schuyler Bailar

May 4, 2016


Sam Klein

Guest speaker Schuyler Bailar is the first openly transgender athlete on a Division 1 team. He currently swims on the men’s team for Harvard.

The G-block assembly featured speaker named Schuyler Bailar. Bailar is the first openly transgender athlete to compete in any Division I sport of the NCAA, and currently swims on the men’s team at Harvard. He has recently spoken about his experience on Ellen and been the focus of a 60 minutes feature.

Bailar began his talk by describing his childhood, high school experience and transition. He said that he found high school students, including himself, to be too focused on what he called “paper successes,” or superficial accomplishments that can be included on college applications. Bailar said that he wanted to fit in during high school, and so he looked and acted like a girl while also accumulating lots of paper successes.

However, Bailar said that this mindset is dangerous in that it prevents high schoolers from asking themselves difficult questions and finding themselves as they grow up. Bailar said that although he should have felt like he was fitting in, he was unhappy and had mental health struggles. He wasn’t able to determine why until after high school, when he was in a residential treatment center for a few months. During that time, Bailar said that he asked all of the “figuring myself out” questions he had been neglecting, and ultimately decided to begin publicly identifying as a man.

Bailar had been recruited to swim for the Harvard women’s team, but after coming out and having conversations with his coaches, he was invited to swim for either the women’s or the men’s team since he hadn’t begun taking hormones yet. Bailar described the decision as “a war between you and yourself,” as he had to choose whether to continue pursuing records and goals as a woman in the pool or begin being happy and true to himself both in and out of the water. Ultimately, he chose the latter.

Bailar then showed a video of the first meet he competed in as a man. He said that he was happy when he was younger, but described the happiness he felt after transitioning as lighter, and not weighed down by anything. He concluded his talk by reading a poem he wrote to his eight-year-old self.

“You’ll grow up to be exactly who you are,” he said.

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Kendall McGowan, Managing News Editor

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