22 Groundbreaking Transgender Athletes You Should Know

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A comprehensive list of famous and notable athletes around the world and throughout history.

Athletic ability seems to trump binary concepts of gender. That's certainly true in the cases of these notable transgender athletes. These men and women have made their mark in a number of areas in the sporting world. Some talented trans athletes competed at the college level while other great transgender athletes vied for international titles. But it's not all medals and glory – many famous trans athletes have fought against various forms of discrimination.

Who will you find on this list of famous transgender athletes? Caitlyn Jenner appears at the top. She inspired U.S. sports fans when she – then Bruce – won the gold medal in the decathlon in 1976. Jenner came out as transgender in a 2015 interview with Diane Sawyer. Mianne Bagger is the first openly transgender woman to play in a professional golf tournament. Balian Buschbaum – then Yvonne – competed as a pole vaulter in the 2000 Olympic games. In 2007, Buschbaum began to take hormones to transition and revealed his new identity the following year. "I feel as if I am a man and have to live my life in the body of a woman. I am aware of the fact that transsexuality is a fringe issue, and I do not want to be responsible for it remaining on the fringe," he said.

Which transgender athlete do you find to be the most inspiring? Take a look at this list and get in on the conversation in the comments section.

 

Photo: alfrank1986 / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

  • Caitlyn Jenner
    Photo: Daily Mail / via Pinterest

    Jenner inspired U.S. sports fans during the 1976 Olympics by winning the gold medal in the decathlon. She came out as transgender in a 2015 interview with Diane Sawyer. Besides her athletic accomplishments, Jenner is known for starring in the reality TV shows Keeping Up with the Kardashians and I Am Cait.

    • Age: 73
    • Birthplace: Mount Kisco, New York, United States of America
  • Balian Buschbaum
    Photo: tumblr.com / via Pinterest

    Balian Buschbaum – then Yvonne – competed as a pole vaulter in the 2000 Olympic games. In 2007, Buschbaum began to take hormones to transition and revealed his new identity the following year. "I feel as if I am a man and have to live my life in the body of a woman. I am aware of the fact that transsexuality is a fringe issue, and I do not want to be responsible for it remaining on the fringe," he said.

  • Fallon Fox

    Fallon Fox is the first openly transgender woman to compete in MMA. Her decision to compete as a woman has been the subject of criticism by some of her peers, with Ronda Rousey calling her birth-assigned gender "an [unfair] advantage."
     

    • Age: 47
    • Birthplace: Toledo, Ohio
  • Krieger – then Heidi – won the gold medal in shot put at the European Championships in 1986. Krieger underwent a female to male sex change operation in 1997. At a young age, he was unknowingly given steroids by East German officials in order to perform better athletically. Krieger attributes his sexual identity to being given these drugs. ''They killed Heidi," he said.

    • Age: 56
    • Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
  • Roberta Cowell
    Photo: The Independent / via Pinterest

    In 1948, Roberta Cowell – then Robert – became the first man in Britain to undergo gender reassignment surgery. She had previously raced in the Belgian Grand Prix.

    • Age: Dec. at 93 (1918-2011)
    • Birthplace: Croydon, London, United Kingdom
  • Kye Allums is the first openly transgender NCAA athlete to play Division I sports. Of public perception and acceptance of trans people, he said, "Everyone’s attitude towards trans people is not going to change overnight, and for some they may never change, but I think as long as us trans folks continue to be our true selves, and fight for what we believe in, change will continue to happen whether people are ready for it or not."

    • Age: 34