ESPN Is Celebrating This Transgender Athlete in Its Body Issue

July 1st 2016

Lucy Tiven

Once a year, ESPN The Magazine releases a Body Issue, celebrating the physiques of star athletes in nude photographs that highlight their strength and abilities. The yearly issue is significant because it focuses on the function of naked bodies, rather than portraying them through a purely sexual lens.

This year, magazine is breaking through an even more powerful barrier.

The issue will feature transgender duathlete Chris Mosier, Buzzfeed reported.

"I have wanted to be in the Body Issue for over a year," Mosier wrote on ESPN. "I think the reason I felt so inspired to do it is that I'm finally at a place where I feel very comfortable with my body. And as a trans person, being in a body that didn't really fit me for 29 years, now I feel very comfortable in my own skin."

Mosier, a 35-year-old trans man, is no stranger to shattering the gender barrier. On June 19, he ran and biked in the World Duathlon Championship in Spain, and was the first out trans competitor to compete on a national team corresponding to his gender identity and not the gender he was assigned at birth. He also placed second in his U.S. age group.

He opened up about how athletics helped him feel more at home in his body, leading up to his transition.

"I've always used athletics as a way to feel connected to my body," he explained on ESPN. "Before [my] transition, I think I would use fitness and running and lifting weights as a way to feel more comfortable in my skin, even though I didn't feel very connected to my body. So I could lift weights or run and slim down a little bit or gain muscle in different places and feel a little more masculine or a little more comfortable in my body."

The issue has celebrated a diverse range of sports stars and physiques over the years — from mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey to Texas Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder.

Fielder's cover issue was especially notable — his husky physique garnered considerable backlash, which ultimately seemed to affirm why the issue is so significant. It asks us to consider the human body not only as an object of desire, but also as a source of stamina, power, and dynamism.

This radical shift is particularly meaningful when it comes to transgender bodies, which the mainstream media had only recently begun to acknowledge at all.

The issue will be available online July 6 and in print on July 8. You can read more about Mosier, in his own words, on ESPN.

[h/t Buzzfeed ]