Schuyler Bailar thought he lost his Harvard acceptance before he even started college.
Bailar was recruited for the Harvard women’s swim team and was terrified that he was going to lose his Harvard acceptance and team after coming out as a transgender male athlete.
Bailar’s shared his story about becoming the first transgender NCAA Division I athlete to compete in any sport at the Reitz Union Friday on National Coming Out Day.
He spoke to an audience of about 50 people at an event hosted by Pride Student Union. He was paid $2,500.
After coming out to the women’s coach before his freshman year, he was given the option to swim for the women’s or men’s team but was terrified instead of relieved. His dreams of reaching the Olympics became blurry.
“I started really considering what it would actually mean to choose my happiness over my potential excellence,” he said.
After meeting with both teams and feeling support from both, Bailar decided to swim with the men’s team.
During the Q&A, he was asked about arguments against transgender athletes, such as the stereotype that transgender men have more feminine bodies, making them worse at sports.
“My response is simply factual,” he said. “I beat 85 percent of all the men in this country.”
Bailar’s UF presentation marked the end of the fifth week of his six-week speaking tour. He speaks to audiences of all ages and backgrounds, from kindergarteners and UF students to therapists.
“The connections that I make with other trans folks means the absolute world to me because I can see that this means to them that they can exist too,” Bailar said. “I didn’t have that when I was a kid, and I want to give that to people.”
Pride Student Union president Georges Obayi said members look up to Bailar as a role model, prompting the group to invite him.
“We want to recognize that history is always being made every single day,” Obayi said. “There’s always new opportunities to be had, and we always want to encourage you to keep forging along on your path.”