MARQUETTE — Chris Mosier, an alumnus of Northern Michigan University in Chicago, is a pioneering transgender athlete who has been a catalyst for policy change and a strong advocate for inclusion in and beyond sport.
Its motto, “Be the one you needed when you were younger” the 2003 NMU graduate is a dedicated mentor for transgender and non-binary youth, a much-loved speaker, and a leading grassroots organizer against the current wave of anti-trans legislation across the United States.
For these reasons and more, he was selected as the recipient of the university’s 2022 Alumni Service Award.
“I think it’s amazing to be recognized in this way,” said Mosier, who earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. “It’s also wonderful to go back to campus feeling like the person I’ve always wanted to be.
“When I was a student at Northern, I really struggled to find my place in the world because I didn’t understand that I was trans, and there weren’t many people in my social circles when I was there.”
He was one of four Alumni Award winners from NMU Alumni Relations who were recognized and celebrated during the September 23-24 Homecoming Weekend on campus.
Other recipients were Steve Nystrom of Marquette as Distinguished Alumni, James Paquette of Negaunee for Alumni Achievement and Stephanie Lay of Oakland, California for Outstanding Young Alumni.
For Mosier, it was a protective mechanism as he embarked on his Nordic experience, dealing with intramural sports, residence council and other organizations so he didn’t have time to think. to his identity, to develop close relationships with others or to have to talk too much about himself.
“Even donning the Wildcat Willy mascot costume allowed me to play sports, but with the gift of anonymity,” he said. “It was about building walls to help me avoid potentially awkward moments.
“Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed my overall experience at Northern and it prepared me to incorporate some of these ideas into my identity. But I only fully explored and embraced my authentic self after I left.
Along with increased self-awareness, Mosier began to recognize the significant value of using sport as a vehicle for social change.
His credibility in this area was reinforced in 2013, when he created the website transathlete.com, a resource for students, athletes, coaches and administrators containing information on trans inclusion in athletics at different levels.
He has also helped teams, high school athletic associations, and professional sports leagues create gender-neutral policies.
In 2015, Mosier became the first openly trans man to win a spot on a U.S. men’s national sports team and was instrumental in the International Olympic Committee’s review of its policy on transgender athletes.
He was a six-time member of the US team in the sprint and long distance duathlon, as well as the sprint triathlon. The duathlon is similar to the triathlon, except that a second running leg usually replaces the swim of a triathlon.
In 2016 he became the first trans man to compete against men in a world championship race under its new rules.
In what he considers one of his greatest accomplishments, Mosier became the first known trans athlete to compete in the Olympic Trials in the gender they identify with in 2020. Mosier’s event was the 50 kilometres, a sport that has earned him two national titles. championships.
“Running is really tough on the body” he said. “I managed to injure myself in there, even though I participated in triathlon and duathlon for more than 10 years without injury.
“But I still actively participate in the duathlon and maybe race walking. The racing season is over, so we are in practice mode for next year’s Nationals.
Mosier’s pioneering exploits raised his profile. He is a Nike-sponsored athlete who was featured in a television commercial that made his prime-time debut during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics and in the cobbler’s BeTrue campaign. He was also the first trans athlete to appear in ESPN’s body issue The Magazine.
Mosier is the executive producer of the Emmy-nominated Hulu documentary, “Changing the Game” and was featured in his award-winning short documentary, “The Chris Mosier Project.” Other past honors include Outsports Personality of the Year, Advocate Magazine “40 under 40”, Compete magazine’s Athlete of the Year and Mosier’s induction into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame.
Mosier has leveraged his visibility in other opportunities to share his story and educate people on ways to increase inclusivity. He travels the country speaking on LGBTQ topics. Some of his stops have included ESPN and Disney, JP Morgan Chase and the NCAA. Previously, he served as Vice President of Program Development and Community Relations for You Can Play and Executive Director of GO! Athletes. Her immersion in advocacy work forced Mosier to step away from her former full-time job of living in residence at a university.
“I went into higher education because of my amazing experience with student life at NMU,” he said. “But I was on call for 11 years of my life, and it was particularly intense at the end.
“It started to take its toll and I realized that I wanted to focus my full attention on helping people and bringing about positive change.
“In my own experience, I’ve found that finding my deserved voice, owning the power of my identity, and understanding how I can appear in this world every day in the wholeness of who I am and not have to hide , that makes me a much better person and colleague.
“My goal is to help others achieve this on their own and demonstrate that creating inclusive spaces makes everyone better.”
This story was prepared by Kristi Evans, Director of NMU News.