This interview is a part of Year of the Brave, a collection celebrating the artists, activists, and agitators whose radical braveness outlined 2021.


“It’s lonely,” admits Layshia Clarendon, the WNBA’s first brazenly trans and nonbinary participant. The 30-year-old guard for the Minnesota Lynx, who makes use of all pronouns interchangeably, made headlines in January after they revealed on Instagram that they’d undergone prime surgical procedure. Clarendon, who was chosen ninth general within the 2013 WNBA Draft, had come out as gender nonconforming a number of years prior—one other transformational second within the historical past of the league.

Clarendon’s Instagram announcement earlier this yr got here amid a wave of state payments trying to ban trans youth in sports activities altogether, an agenda aggressively pursued by the Trump Administration. Simply hours after assuming workplace, President Joe Biden signed an government order aimed toward stopping discrimination on the premise of sexual orientation or gender id, however the debate about the place trans and gender nonconforming our bodies belong in American sports activities continues to rage.

Almost a yr after surgical procedure, Clarendon nonetheless feels bewildered at instances. “You understand what it’s wish to blaze a fucking path?” they ask. “Meaning you’re hacking down weeds within the forest. How do you get by means of the forest when there’s no fucking path? It’s not similar to the trail much less taken. There is no such thing as a path.”

Nonetheless, they really feel hopeful concerning the bigger function the league can play on this pivotal second: “The W is completely positioned to be the league that's for people who find themselves marginalized due to gender. That’s why the W began within the first place, and I believe that’s the league that it nonetheless is.” Earlier than the tip of the season, Clarendon spoke with GQ about bravery, popping out, and their imaginative and prescient for the way forward for the WNBA.

GQ: When did you begin questioning the buildings and techniques that make up the sports activities business?

Layshia Clarendon: It wasn’t till faculty that I began to see the distinction in how the lads’s crew was handled from the ladies’s crew. At [the University of California] Berkeley, we have been method higher than the lads’s crew, and but their sport on a Wednesday evening could be the sport that was packed.

I took this sociology class in faculty and I nonetheless have very vivid reminiscences of being offended and being like, “Wow, that is how the world works?” It was the primary time I keep in mind studying the phrase “socioeconomic standing.” Sadly, I wasn’t raised in a household that was open about many of those subjects. My dad is white, and my mother is Black, they usually constantly reiterated “You may have the very best of each worlds” to me. On reflection, although, I’ve come to understand that my mother and father have been attempting to speak about race and self-becoming with out really addressing the truth that I grew up in an interracial family. Similar with popping out and queerness.

You’re fairly open about how popping out was troublesome on your mother and father. What recommendation do you may have for younger folks on the ebbs and flows of turning into?

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