On March 31st, the National Center for Transgender Equality will host its annual Trans Equality Now Awards, an opportunity to commemorate movement workers, allies, and fresh voices who have all committed to advance transgender equality.
Among the honorees at this year’s ceremony will be Layshia Clarendon (she/they/he), New York Liberty guard and activist, who will receive the Andy Cray Award. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Layshia played for Indiana Fever, Atlanta Dream, Connecticut Sun, and currently New York Liberty. Known for their inclusion efforts, Layshia has been known to push the WNBA to explicitly engage LGBTQ+ communities, especially those who are trans and non-binary.
As one of the very few Black, trans, non-binary athletes in the league, Layshia’s visibility is crucial to so many young, Black, trans athletes who are both hypervisibilized and excluded from participation in sports. In the midst of several anti-trans youth athlete bills being introduced to legislation, Layshia Clarendon shared his recent recovery from gender-affirming top surgery, revealing “none of us are free until we are all free!!!” Many publications, including New York Liberty expressed messages of support, and Layshia’s vulnerability has been incredibly encouraging not only to NCTE, but aspiring trans athletes across the nation.
In an interview with NBCSports, Layshia highlighted that one can be trans whether they are pre-op or post-op. It is critical to acknowledge that transness is not tethered to gender dysphoria or medical intervention, rather a commitment to self agency, bodily autonomy, and to life. Layshia knew that his existence in the sports world would shift the league altogether, but he remains an outspoken answer to the question of trans belonging and right to participation.
With the ongoing legislative movement to ban trans youth from sports, Layshia has been an incredible force in challenging the rhetoric that trans athletes have an advantage over cisgender athletes. She charges the league to listen to Black trans individuals, and by extension encourage their participation. Layshia represents a dedication to living with intention, and a commitment to bodily autonomy, regardless of occupation. Layshia’s existence is not only an assertion of diversity in the league, but also a political stance against anti-trans state legislation. We commend their struggle to freedom, and are proud to present them with the Andy Cray award for the 2021 Trans Equality Now Awards.
This article is the second in a series, profiling honorees at NCTE’s 18th annual event, March 31st, 2021. Click here to secure your place at NCTE’s 18th anniversary event.