Q&A: UW-Madison’s Emmett Lockwood is breaking barriers in the pool | Education6 min read
Emmett Lockwood, 19, is the 1st overtly transgender athlete on the College of Wisconsin-Madison men’s water polo team and proud of it. But it has not been an effortless journey.
The summer months prior to Lockwood started at UW, Wisconsin’s Republican Legislature renewed a push to bar transgender athletes from participating in girls’ or women’s sports from elementary school by college. He realized being on the workforce here would arrive with troubles but he’s taken them all on, helping direct the group to the Major 10 Championship in 2021. (The expenditures under no circumstances achieved the governor’s desk despite the GOP’s company legislative the vast majority.)
Lockwood has damaged down barriers for his staff, but has damaged down even much more in the larger campus community as a member of scholar governing administration, and also a disability legal rights and transgender activist. He’s pushed for a Disabled Learners Heart and bigger transgender discovering alternatives. He spoke with the Cap Situations about his experience on the workforce and as a student.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I have been playing h2o polo considering the fact that the fifth quality. It’s a 10 yr old’s desire to engage in a activity wherever you can splash people and drive individuals underwater and be a basic nuisance to other human beings. I have liked the activity ever because. I was a 4-12 months varsity athlete and the captain of my superior school’s girls drinking water polo team my senior yr. I finished up coming out correct just before my senior yr of higher university so that also made me the 1st male captain of my substantial college girls h2o polo staff — loads of fun complexities in that assertion. When I received to UW-Madison, I incredibly immediately discovered the men’s drinking water polo workforce on campus and it has turn out to be like a second household to me about the final couple of a long time. I appreciate the team. We just lately placed fifth in the Huge 10 division.
What created you want to arrive to Madison?
My higher education final decision was challenging. I had never really been to the Midwest prior to. I considered UW-Madison would be an accepting campus for myself as a trans university student. Owning a gender inclusive housing device, having a drinking water polo group and the prominence of the Gender and Sexuality Campus Middle designed me experience like if I ever required support in athletics I could get it — which I found to be true.
What has your experience been like as a trans athlete on the crew?
To my know-how, I am at least the first out trans male ever on the h2o polo group. If we back again it up to significant faculty, that is wherever I really started grappling with the problem of myself currently being a trans athlete. I 1st came out through h2o polo period, and… I desired to go by medical changeover, I required to begin hormones and there ended up implications of how it would transform how I was seen on the workforce.
At my higher faculty, there had been regulations I would not be allowed on the men’s workforce until I was at least on hormones for a 12 months. I was a minimal grateful COVID took place for the reason that, when it took absent my senior season of drinking water polo, it also gave me time to arrive out to investigate my gender without having having to deal with that strain.
It can be also attention-grabbing getting really visibly trans because I am not in my day to day everyday living. I go as male for all intents and needs, but then I get in the pool and I am in effectively a woman’s swimsuit. It’s undoubtedly a change for me, like “Okay, now I am incredibly radically noticeable.”
What has it been like on the Madison crew?
Coming into university, I understood me remaining on the crew was a major understanding practical experience for my teammates, but also for myself. For some of my teammates, I am the initially trans individual they’ve knowingly fulfilled. Some are coming from Republican-controlled counties and university districts that never train them about trans individuals. I’m from Connecticut and I even arrived from a college district that didn’t teach me about trans persons.
My group has been wonderful. They’ve been extra than eager to discover and much more than prepared to accept me as element of their workforce. It really is been seriously good for me as effectively.
Can you explain to me extra about the sport of h2o polo?
Water polo is for most men and women a extremely out-there activity. I like to describe it as extremely equivalent to rugby: Everyone swims up the pool on defense and anyone swims down the pool on offense, with the exception of the goalie. All over the study course of a activity it’s just frequently in a wrestling match with just about every other in excess of who can get best positioned in entrance of the aim. Water polo is genuinely appealing. I like it genuinely tactically since it has that pure actual physical ingredient but also a whole lot of tactic, like how do you draw out a foul? How do you make it glance like anyone else is breaking the guidelines?
What have been the issues of staying a trans athlete?
Water polo nevertheless has a extensive way to go as a sport and understanding that there are trans athletes in the water. Although we are a sport that is very visually binary, truly gendered among who’s carrying speedos and who’s wearing a woman’s water polo go well with, that doesn’t mirror the gender of the man or woman in the accommodate.
I keep in mind a single of my initially days in the pool my freshman 12 months and a single of my group associates — not out of malice at all — but because I have not experienced top operation nonetheless, so I continue to have on what would be regarded as a stereotypical women’s swimsuit for practices, turned to me and was like, “Emmett, where’s the ladies crew? Why usually are not they here still?” I said, “Very well, they are about there. You know, I’m on your crew, suitable?” And there was that moment of recognition of, “Oh, hold out, this is a trans athlete.” I have experienced men explain to me on the group that they are thankful for me being on the crew due to the fact they never believe they would have received that education about trans challenges otherwise.
You started off at UW just months following the point out Legislature tried out to move expenditures concentrating on trans athletes. What was that like?
My mother and father asked me the truthful dilemma of if I needed to proceed drinking water polo in faculty, if I wished to put myself below that anxiety of getting a trans athlete. It was rough, but, for me, just one of the most liberating encounters is currently being in the pool. I just realized I had to go on enjoying. I knew I would regret it if I did not. But it was really hard.
What else do you want people today to know about you?
While I adore the get the job done of educating folks, there are days in which I just want to exist as a trans university student on campus and have no one talk to me about what I consider of the political scenario in the U.S. Generally when folks are thinking about trans individuals, it feels like sometimes there is the reduction of the feeling they are talking about a man or woman. These are people. These are the pupils. You are sitting down subsequent to them in course they are almost certainly driving following to you down the road.
In excess of the summer months, a mom of a trans swimmer in Utah arrived at out to me above Facebook and asked me to talk with her because she was having difficulties figuring out how to guardian a trans youth and athlete in a Republican-controlled condition. It reminded me how really hard it is to see people chatting about how trans people today are just making an attempt to use their transgender identity to get in advance in sports. I despise that rhetoric. At the end of the working day, I glance at this child and I just see a kid who wants to splash about in the water.