On June 21st trans athlete Keelin Godsey came within one meter of making Olympic history. The 28-year-old had already managed 69 meters in the hammer throw. He needed to toss the hammer 71.5 meters in the final qualifying trials. He did succeed in tossing a personal best, 70.49, but was just shy of making the cut for the US Olympic Team in the women’s hammer throw.
Had Godsey made the team, he would have been the first openly trans athlete to compete in any Olympics event. In the video interview below, Ann Schatz talks with him about the challenges of his journey.
Godsey is biologically a woman, named Kelly at birth. In 2005 he came out as a male and changed his name to Keelin. Although fellow athletes have not made an issue of his transgender status, he says the decision to come out as a male “has been the hardest decision to make and the hardest decision to continue to make every day because every day I have to make that decision.”
Godsey has not taken hormones nor undergone surgery, choices that have been troubling for the transgender community. He has been accused of wanting the best of both worlds but says, “I’m not getting the best of any world.”
He lives between gender worlds, not fully part of either, and says track has saved his life. Being a hammer thrower is more of an identity for him than being a transgender person. He says:
I am a transgender person, but I ‘m just a guy that was born as a woman. I was just unfortunate that I had a little bit of a birth defect there, but I’m a hammer thrower. I’m an athlete, and that’s something I’m very proud of. And I’m not saying I’m not proud of being a transgender person. I’m proud of that too. It took me a long time to say that. I was so ashamed of who I was.
Next: Learning to Accept His Identity
In high school Godsey was confused about his gender. “I hated myself. I felt like a freak. I went through a lot of bullying, like a lot of LGBTQ kids do.”
In university he took a gender-studies class in university. That is where he learned more about the transgender community and began to find the courage to accept, instead of being ashamed of, who he was.
“It’s not about breaking barriers,” he says. “It’s about equality.”
Ann Schatz, who clearly admires him, is a frank and sensitive interviewer. Siobain Ryan is equally skilled as photographer and editor.
Near the end of the video, Schatz holds up the feature article about Godsey in Sports Illustrated. She challenges him to acknowledge he is a role model for other transgender people, that he is breaking barriers.
The ongoing struggle is visible in Godsey’s face. This is a sensitive, talented young athlete whose story is deeply moving and inspiring. He has a lot to teach us all about the difficult path of a trans person.
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Photos: clips from video