The last few years have led to some of the biggest victories for the transgender community. But thanks to Chris Mosier, the Olympics are now the stage for the biggest moment of visibility to date.
Last year, Mosier became the first transgender athlete to compete as part of Team USA. He competed at the Duathalon World Championships in Spain. This year, he became the first trans American athlete to compete in the Olympics. This past Monday, he became the first trans athlete to take center stage in a Nike ad.
Nike shared the ad via Twitter with the caption, “Your limits are only defined by you”. Mosier took to his own Twitter to share the commercial. “We tell children, ‘if you can see it, you can be’. This is the importance of @Nike ad,” he wrote.
The commercial touts a message of ‘Unlimited Courage’. Throughout the 30-second clip, Mosier is seen in intense training sequences of running and biking as he prepares for his Olympic bout. An unseen narrator asks him a series of questions about his journey. How did he know he was strong enough to compete against men? How’d he know he was going to be accepted by the team? Weren’t there times when he wanted to give up? To all of the questions, he responds with a simple, “I didn’t”.
That phrase may not seem significant, but it most certainly is. Twitter user @dorkpuppy tweeted, “I can’t stop crying bc I never thought I’d see another trans guy featured positively like that”. User @kcjenkins9 wrote, “Hopefully, this will help open a better dialog of who is considered a man—even those not in transition”.
The moment is one that has resonated deeply with people in and out of the trans community. It’s a 30-second victory that has much bigger implications than what can be packed into the commercial.
In November 2015, the International Olympic Committee held a consensus meeting on sex reassignment and hyperandrogenism. New rules were instated to remove all surgical requirements for trans people to compete in events according to their gender identity. While Mosier’s visibility is most definitely groundbreaking, this year’s games have been the most accessible they’ve ever been.
Mosier is in great company in the Unlimited series. Serena Williams, Neymar Jr., and LeBron James are a few of the superstar athletes appearing in similarly inspiring ads.
In a December video from Great Big Story, Mosier goes into more detail about his transition. He shares how he was worried about transitioning because of the effect it would have on his eligibility to compete. He shared how trans athletes have to think about how fans and spectators will react. They also have to think about how other athletes will react in the locker room.
I think it’s safe to say that he didn’t just overcome those problems. He’s completely eradicated them all while continuing to break records. Next up, he’ll compete on the world’s biggest athletic stage in Rio.