Nike Ad features First Transgender Member of Team USA

A new Nike advert aired on Monday, and is making considerable noise as it features Chris Mosier, a transgender duathlete who qualified for the national team earlier this year.

While he is not participating in the Rio Games - the duathlon is not an Olympic sport - Mosier hopes that the ad will inspire other athletes. Aired during prime-time Olympic coverage, the high-profile ad broadcasts a clear message of inclusion, especially from such a culturally established sporting brand as Nike.

The advert is called 'Ultimate Courage', and follows Mosier through his training, cycling through the streets, running over bridges and in the gym. A voiceover narrator poses questions to Chris: 'How’d you know you’d be fast enough, or strong enough to compete against men?', 'How’d you know the team would accept you?', 'Or that you’d even be allowed to compete?'. To all of these, Mosier's answer is the same: 'I didn't.'

The narrator's final question. 'That must have been tough. Did you ever just want to give up?' Mosier answers: 'Yeah. But I didn't.'

Mosier describes his admirable attitude using the straightforward Nike slogan to outline how he focused and achieved his goals:

'Everything that I’ve done in the last five, six years since I started to transition, has been with a ‘just do it’ mindset.

'By not stopping myself, not limiting myself and just really going for it, I’ve learned a lot about myself and also had the opportunity to further the conversation on trans inclusion in sports.

'It’s just such an amazing opportunity—and an amazing opportunity for other people to see themselves reflected in someone succeeding in sports as a trans man.'

There are currently no openly trans athletes at Rio, but the International Olympic Committee did issue new regulations in January which will make the Games more accessible to transgender athletes in the future.

The regulations state that a trans male athlete in transition can compete as a man without the need for gender reassignment surgery.

Trans athletes have been able to compete in the Games since 2004, but until now they needed to have had surgery and to have undergone at least two years of hormone treatment. The process was complicated further as the IOC required athletes to have the right legal documents.

Another first came for Chris earlier this year, when he became the first transgender athlete to appear in ESPN's 2016 Body Issue. He poses nude with his bike, and speaks about his relationship with his own physical form and with the camera:

'For 29 years of my life, I didn’t want to be in pictures because what was reflected back to me was not the way I felt or the way I saw myself. I struggled with that for a really long time — of not even wanting to be in photos at all. And so now, to be at a point where I not only want to be in photos but with no clothes in photos is tremendous.'

His triumphant message is inspiring, and advocates self-love and acceptance of our fellow human. He articulates the difficulties within his own nation, and poses a simple philosophy:

'There are certainly parts of our country that are really struggling with understanding that they should treat all people with dignity and respect.'

Hopefully, as Chris himself has expressed, these events will push the conversation about trans inclusion further into the spotlight, and open up the sporting arena as a more accepting, safe space for trans athletes.

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