This week, two openly LGBTQ athletes will grace the pages of ESPN The Magazine’s 2016 Body Issue -- duathlete Chris Mosier and retired Olympic diving superstar Greg Louganis, who has been living with HIV for nearly three decades.
Mosier is making history not only as the first known out transgender athlete to appear in the annual Body Issue, but also the first trans athlete to qualify for a U.S. national team, earning a spot on the Team USA sprint duathlon men’s squad for the 2016 World Championships. As a trans advocate, Mosier is using his renown to advance rights for current and up-and-coming transgender athletes.
“For so long as a transgender person, the body that I had before I transitioned never matched what I thought that my body should be,” Mosier told ESPN in a video interview. “It feels good to know that other people after me will be able to look to someone for an example. To me, that’s the most magical moment.”
Mosier - who began competing as a transgender man in 2010 - qualified for Team USA in 2015, but was unsure of policies relating to trans athletes that could hinder his ability to compete. He immediately reached out to governing bodies including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Triathlon Union. In January of this year, the IOC ruled that transgender athletes are eligible for competition without having undergone gender-affirming surgery.
“As a result of getting the Olympic policy changed, and being able to compete myself in the World Championship, now there are young people out there who are just falling in love with sports, who can be their authentic self and play the sports that they love, and potentially be in the Olympics and not have to negotiate their gender identity in order to play the sports that they love,” he said.
In addition to his recorded ESPN interview, Mosier also wrote a piece for the magazine about his path to becoming comfortable in his own skin and having an impact on both the transgender and athletic communities.
“When I made that decision to be out, to be public, it was very much in the idea that I didn't see any other guys competing at a high level after a medical transition. I thought people should see that,” Mosier wrote. “And by people seeing me, that will impact their ability or their confidence to continue to play sports.”
Considered one of the greatest divers in history, Louganis shot to fame in the 1980s when he swept the diving events at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games, on his way to winning four gold medals. Almost 30 years later, Louganis will head to Rio later this summer as an athlete mentor for the United States diving team.
A pioneer in the LGBTQ community, Louganis became one of the first openly gay men in sports, and courageously competed in the 1988 Olympics just six months after learning he had HIV. Earlier this year, Louganis earned a well-deserved, albeit belated, honor of appearing on a Wheaties box.
“HIV taught me that I'm a lot stronger than I ever believed I was,” Louganis wrote for ESPN. “I didn't think I would see 30, and here I am at 56."
For the past three decades Louganis has managed to maintain peak physical fitness -- something he attributes to his HIV status. As the oldest athlete featured in this Body Issue, Louganis said he tries to provide an example for gay men as well as those who are living with HIV.
“If I wasn’t living with this virus for all these years, I probably wouldn’t be in the shape that I’m in,” he said in a video interview. “It’s really taught me to be better connected with myself, but also to be better connected with my body too.”
The eighth annual Body Issue is available online today, July 6, and will hit newsstands on July 8.