Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July 27, 2009 - strange swimming classification

well, i was quite sore from my marathon but managed to get myself to the pool in time for my swim. in fact, i was there 5 hours early! (strange how they told me to be at the pool for 9.30 am even though my swim didn't take place until 1.50 pm). oh well, it was great to be there and see the swimming opening ceremonies and even better to be in attendance to watch many of the other great athletes.. i got to watch 200m breast strokers, other 1500m freestylers, the 200m Individual Medley, and the 4 x 100M freestyle relay. i also got to watch some diving and waterpolo.

anyway, i was informed that i was the only transsexual swimmer so i essentially had the 3rd locker room all to myself.

after i got changed, i found a seat to watch the other swimmers and mingled with several other athletes. including many other canadians..

anyway, my time was finally called and i lined up and dove in for a swim. i was swimming along side of 13 female swimmers, since they didn't want to take up the extra time to have me swim alone. i got out to a bit of a fast start but slowed down after the first lap and managed to swim at a consistent pace throughout the race. i was going faster than i had intended but the breathing was ok, so i kept going. by 500M i had a stitch in my side, which made it tougher, but i pushed hard to get thru the swim. i was worried that they would cut me off for being too slow, as they did for some other poor soul. (sorry, but i think it is inexcusable to cut people off who pay their own way to come to denmark for something like this).

anyway, there was no time clock but i monitored my progress based on the general clock on the wall. i was thinking i was just ahead of 30 min pace but turned out i was ahead of 29. i ended up scoring a 28.31, shattering expectations and recording a personal best.. i was very pleased with the swim!

excitement turned into surprise and disappointment though as at no point during the entire day was there ever any mention of the infamous new transsexual category. when i went to the table at the end to claim my prize, i was shocked to learn that had been classified as a female and not a transsexual! amazingly, i was actually awarded a Silver medal for being the 2nd fastest female in my apparent age category! (2nd out of 5 swimmers). (they gave medals for age categories as well as overall placements).

bottom line, this totally defeated the purpose of me being there. i was not there to beat other females. in fact, i was that to make a statement that transsexuals midway thru transition should not be classified as male or female.

anyway, i followed up with the games coordinator and they indicated that a mistake had been made and that i would be welcome to turn my silver in for a gold that i was entitled too.

but ultimately, this is not about medals. this was supposed to be about transsexualism. i wanted to make a statement that transsexuals were a part of the world and that were were recognized for our unique status while in transition.

Tolerance is great, but acceptance and embracement is better. although the Games agreed to create the category, i sense it was not something they wanted to be very open about. The only mention of the policy was from their January 2009 newsletter, which featured a story about me.

not once through the games did i ever see any posting indicating that transsexual athletes were here. in addition to this mix up at the pool, i see i was classified as a female on the results section of the marathon too.

bottom line, i can't help but feel disappointed by this overall experience.. i will be following up with e-mails to the games organizers and other LGBT sports sanctioning bodies to let them know my disappointment..


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