Trans Athlete Confronts N.C. Bill, 'Hostile Environment' has partnered with LexisNexis to bring you this content.

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Duathlete Chris Mosier enjoys training for all distances.

But competing in the Long Course Duathlon National Championships last month in Cary, N.C., was satisfying for more reasons than a payoff from grueling training.

"In many ways," Mosier said, "it was a protest as well."

A transgender male athlete -- the first to compete in the Sprint Duathlon World Championships in Spain last summer and the first to be sponsored by Nike — Mosier was competing in a state that still features a bathroom bill that's discriminatory toward the transgender community.

In the race April 29, Mosier qualified for another spot on the men's U.S. national team for his age group, building off his accomplishments from last summer when he qualified for the national team in the sprint duathlon — a shorter, equally challenging distance. This year in the long course, which includes a 5-mile run, 31-mile bike and 5-mile run, Mosier placed second in his age group (35-39) with a qualifying time of 2:40.27.

"My athletic goal was to make the podium (finishing in the top three). To do that in North Carolina was extra satisfying," said Mosier, who will travel to Zofingen, Switzerland, in 2017 (for sprint duathlon) and 2018 (for long course duathlon) to represent the U.S. men's team again in the International Triathlon Union's Age Group World Championships.

North Carolina's highly scrutinized House Bill 2 was altered in April and renamed House Bill 142, which was promoted as a repeal and deemed a compromise by its authors. HB142 removes the requirement for transgender people to use public bathrooms based on their birth certificate and not their gender identity. But it still includes a ban for anti-discrimination ordinances until December 2020 — keeping intact a key part of HB2 that could allow businesses to determine bathroom provisions.

Some athletes, including Mosier's fellow duathlete Joseph Pendleton, chose not to compete in North Carolina because of the policy. But Mosier thought the best way to make an impact was by being there in an uncomfortable environment.

"I think visibility is a powerful tool for social change," said Mosier, who also serves as the vice president of program development and community relations for You Can Play, an organization dedicated to eradicating homophobia and transphobia in sports. "Sports provide me as an athlete with a platform to help change perceptions and break stereotypes on transgender athletes and transgender people. The more I can be visible and succeed, the more other people will see."

Similar to his trip to North Carolina for last year's national championships, Mosier said he was deliberate in not spending any money in the state, stopping at the Virginia border to fill up for gas and staying at Airbnb housing because the company has inclusion policies he feels comfortable supporting. He said he was "in and out as fast as possible."

The bathroom bills, which are being considered with similar formats to North Carolina's in other states, most notably Texas, were created with the intention to protect children from the opposite sex in restrooms. But Mosier contests that those in the transgender community are actually the ones in danger because of bullying and that the lack of protection paves way for fear, especially for the younger generation — 75% of transgender youths feel unsafe at school according to a GLSEN survey. In February, the Trump administration announced an end to federal protections that allowed transgender students to use facilities based on their gender identity.

"As a trans person, being in that space (in North Carolina), it feels hostile," Mosier said. "It doesn't feel hostile because of the people. I realize HB142 does not reflect the values of most people in the state. But by creating this situation, there's a risk for violence. ... It feels unsafe."

Chuck Menke, chief marketing officer for USA Triathlon, said members of the organization were cognizant of the difficult climate in North Carolina due to House Bill 142. USA Triathlon awarded the national championships to Cary in June 2015, which predated HB2.

Barry Siff, USA Triathlon's president, has competed alongside Mosier in international competition and said Mosier's resolve in the face of tribulation is inspiring to those in the sport.

"Chris' accomplishments within the sport of duathlon, often in the face of adversity and prejudice, exemplify the power of the human spirit and the inclusivity of our multisport community," Siff said.

Based on his athletic experiences in North Carolina, Mosier said it was unacceptable for college sports' governing body, the NCAA, to host events there. The state's amended HB142 led the NCAA to drop its ban on the state for hosting championship events. The NCAA awarded it several championship events from 2019 to 2022, including the first and second round of the NCAA basketball tournament in 2020 and 2021 in Greensboro and Raleigh. Before HB2 was repealed, the Associated Press estimated the law would have cost North Carolina more than $3.76 billion in lost business over 12 years, on top of the millions the state lost as a result of 2017's relocation of NCAA championship events and the NBA All-Star Game.

The NCAA hosted its annual inclusion forum in early April, an event that educates athletics departments and spreads a "necessary message" of openness to transgender athletes, according to Mosier. However, those principles are "directly in conflict with the NCAA's actions," he said.

"The NCAA says it values all of its members and protecting all of its student-athletes. That's impossible in North Carolina with something like HB142," said Mosier, who added that having gender-inclusive locker rooms is crucial for transgender athletes to participate fully with the team. "While (HB142) was supposed to be a repeal, it is a repacking of the same discriminatory policies. It still doesn't protect LBGTQ people."

Mosier helped organize a letter signed by 166 student-athletes that was sent to the NCAA board of governors to reconsider its decision, noting "the safety of the LGBTQ athletic community cannot be an afterthought" and HB142 "still discriminates against a population of the NCAA's membership."

"The message that comes across, by the NCAA (bringing championships) back to North Carolina, is that HB142 is in alignment with their values. It sends the message to transgender athletes, coaches and fans that they are not safe at NCAA events. It enables other states to pass comparable legislation ... (the states) know there's no repercussion of losing income from the NCAA. They're basically given the green light to discriminate."

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May 10, 2017


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