Team USA duathlete Chris Mosier will travel to North Carolina later this month to compete in what he called “the most important race of the year,” but not without significant reservations thanks to state legislation that he said threatens the LGBT community and specifically transgender individuals like himself.
“As a transgender athlete, it feels like HB142 puts me at risk for harassment and exclusion here in the U.S.,” the 35-year-old said Friday, referring to House Bill 142, a piece of legislation North Carolina’s state government passed late last month to replace HB2, better known as the “bathroom bill.”
Speaking on a conference call organized by the ACLU, which is continuing its legal battle to get a full repeal of the replacement legislation, as well as pushing back on the NCAA’s acceptance of the new legislation that would allow the organization to hold national championship events in the state, Mosier said the new law still sends the message “that [the LGBT community] shouldn’t be included in public life.”
“HB142 creates an unsafe environment for those who are, or are perceived to be, transgender,” continued Mosier, who made history in 2015 when he became the first transgender athlete to qualify for the U.S. national team. “[State leaders through the bill] are authorizing discrimination and it situates me as a transgender person as a threat … which I am not. And transgender people are not.”
While HB142 has eliminated HB2’s requirement that transgender people use public facilities, including restrooms, that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates, it takes away local governments’ and schools’ rights to make their own rules for their public facilities. HB142 also takes away the ability of local governments to enact any further ordinances to protect LGBT people from discrimination in public spaces or at work.
Mosier said this means he’ll continue to feel “uncomfortable” engaging in simple public acts in North Carolina, such as going out to dinner or shopping.
He said he already felt these fears last year during 2016’s iteration of the Cary Du Classic race, which takes place just outside of Raleigh.
“I was less worried at the race than I was in public spaces,” he said.
“Last year when I went, I chose not to go anywhere except for the race. I did not want to spend money in North Carolina and I didn’t want to have negative experience,” Mosier added, noting he even made sure to fill up his car before he crossed state lines to avoid spending money at North Carolina gas stations.
Despite his reservations about the law, however, Mosier said skipping the annual duathlon — which consists of running and cycling — in the state is not an option.
“These come around once a year and these are very important,” he said.
On the bright side, he said he’s not worried about experiencing any type of discrimination from his fellow athletes. He said since he transitioned from female to male in 2010, he’s experienced only “acceptance from the athletic community.”
“I excelled because I was able to stop worrying about people talking crap,” he said. “I found that I could put more of my focus into my training and my racing and that effort showed.”
Mosier expects he’ll once again be welcomed on the starting line by his fellow athletes at the race this year, but he also hopes his presence makes a larger statement.
“Personally, it’s important for me to show up and compete. … It sends a message we cannot be stopped,” he said. “While it will be uncomfortable and it won’t be my favorite race, it’s important that HB142 won’t stand in my way of achieving my goals.”