Trans Girls Can
Trans Girls Can
I met Megan in Spring of 2015 and we immediately hit it off, quickly becoming good friends. One of the many things we had in common was our love for fitness, with both of us being very keen runners. Exercise had played such a vital role in our transitions, being great for our mental and physical well-being.
Around this time Sports England’s campaign This Girl Can was launched, with a strong body positive message, it was a campaign both myself and Megan were keen to support, with both of us contributing our stories to their blog.
As trans women, we knew that if we felt this way about exercise, many others would too, we wanted to celebrate trans women that were out there doing what they love, sharing their stories and encourage others to get out and get active.
Using social media to promote visibility and community we quickly built momentum and have a whole host of blog post of trans women sharing their stories, from cycling, sailing, racing driving, martial arts and swimming!
Pre-transition I’d led an unhealthy lifestyle, not liking my body, I saw no reason to care for it, I drank to excess and was a heavy smoker. However, once I began transition, I realised that I needed to get healthy, and I started to shape a brighter future for myself.
I began with a few DVD workouts at home, followed by a tentative jog round the block, slowly gaining confidence in my newly discovered fitness. It gave me a focus and it allowed me to see my body in a positive way, as it change with HRT and grew stronger, I appreciated what it could do rather rather than dwell on all the things that held it back.
As the years have passed I learnt Yoga, Pilates, Hula Hooping, salsa dancing, snowboarding, I’ve learnt to swim and I’ve ran - lots!
Physical well being to me is mental and physical strength, and when it counts, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. But it’s also about fun, adventure and community, to experience the outdoors, being in tune with your body, clearing your mind from the noise of the day.
Some people think fitness is all about sweating your bits off in a gym, however I’ve never had a single training session in a gym! Find what works best for you.
Breaking down barriers for trans people accessing sports
The olympics are in full swing and it was good to read the IOC guidelines on transgender athletes earlier this year, with no surgical requirements required and no restrictions on trans men whatsoever - it’s a positive step. It’s important for many reasons, not least because many clubs and teams at local level base their own policy on that of the IOC.
A little closer to home, Trans in Sport, ran by Delia Johnson, consults with National sports bodies and National Sports Councils to produce trans inclusive policy and awareness.
On a local level there’s a network of brilliant trans specific activities and social groups appearing across the country, most of which have appeared in the last 12 months. And whilst they are few in numbers now, I’m sure they will continue to grow and inspire others to get involved or set up their own.
Trans Active are based in Sheffield and hold weekly trans only activity events. ON a fortnightly basis they do swimming and on the alternate weeks they hold badminton sessions, offering a choice for those who want to partake. The sessions are open to anyone identifying on the gender spectrum
Trans Can Sport is based in Brighton, UK and has had a storming 12 months supporting the local trans community to get fit. So successful in fact they just secured another 12 months funding, AWESOME!
TAGS is a real success story of how to use community funding to set up groups. Originally a London based swimming group, organiser Roberta Francis has took the model nationwide, opening trans only spaces in Birmingham, Leicester and Staffordshire with plans for more cities to to open soon. They also offer Yoga, roller skating and other activities on an ad hoc basis.
Running, one of the nation’s favourite sports
Running is an extremely accessible way to keep fit, all you need to get started is a decent pair of shoes and the will to get out and do it. You can run in any environment and there’s always others that will lend support.
I’m a pacer for Liverpool’s Dockside Runners, we run from the Nike Store Sunday and Tuesday’s. It’s a free, friendly, welcoming club. If you find a group of people, whatever their passions may be, they’re always keen to share their experiences and be supportive.
There’s a race or event every weekend it seems, whether they be fun runs, obstacle races, or ultra marathons on road or trails, there’s always a new challenge out there to put your training to the test.
Get the most out of your run
If you’re new to running or never ran take it nice and easy to begin, familiarise yourself with a short route, beginning with a walk or jog and building distance and intensity gradually over time. You can use the couch to 5k plan if it helps motivate you and give you structure. Ideally you want to set to a stage where you run at conversational pace, where you can talk while running, over a set distance.
Everyone has a tendency to run too quickly to begin with - I still do it, and I’m a Pacer with a run club! Runs are all about pace, the more runs you do, the more familiar you’ll be with your own pace. You are not competing with anyone else, take it nice and steady and find your rhythm, don’t over reach with the legs, smaller steps are better than big strides. Increase the distance just a little each time and you’ll progress.
Warm ups and cool downs are essential to prevent injuries and yoga and pilates especially good ways to keep your legs and core strong and limber.
Enjoy it. Run with different people, run on different terrain, one of my joys using running as a way to explore a new city, maybe while on holiday. It’s simply a great experience!
Worried about getting involved?
Make enquiries and see what classes and teams are near you. Generally speaking, most clubs will be keen to get new members, ask if they have open days and taster sessions you can be involved with.
In my experience, the fitness classes I’ve taken have all been welcoming, I appreciate that new environments can be a worry but a good teacher will guide a nervous newcomer, after all it’s in their interest for you to go back for more classes!
Experience new things, have a laugh and get sweaty!
Visit the Trans Girls Can tumblr for further information about the group: http://transgirlscan.tumblr.com/