Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes (2022)

Athletes have long been segregated on the basis of sex. But what happens to the athletes whose physiological traits that distinguish them as female or male don’t match their gender identity? In her first major public appearance since coming out as transgender, Caitlyn Jenner used her acceptance speech for the ESPY's Arthur Ashe Courage Award to talk about her life as an athlete and a transgendered woman.

By definition, transgender is an “umbrella term” that is “used to describe anyone whose identity or behaviour falls outside stereotypical gender norms. More narrowly defined, it refers to individuals whose gender identity does not match their assigned birth gender. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation (attraction to people of a specific gender). Therefore, transgender people may additionally identify as straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual.”

In a system that segregates athletic competition by sex for reasons of “fairness”, where do transgender athletes fit? The International Olympic Committee (IOC) settled the issue of transgender athletes in 2004, when they released the rules to compete. The IOC rules boil down to three basic points. A transgender athlete must have had gender reassignment surgery, they must have legal recognition of their assigned gender and they must have at least two years of hormone therapy. Given these conditions, the IOC does not consider being transgender an unfair advantage. In 2011 the NCAA instituted somewhat less stringent guidelines, they do not require surgery, and they require only one year on testosterone suppression for male-to-female transgender athletes.

Unfortunately, there are detractors (I’m putting it nicely) who feel Jenner was not deserving of the award and who do not seem to understand why ESPN created the award to begin with. Named after Arthur Ashe, the first (and so far only) African-American male tennis player to win singles titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open or Australian Open, ESPN created the award to honour and promote his legacy. Ashe died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1993. The award recognizes those “possessing strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost”. While Caitlyn Jenner remains in the spotlight, here's a look at the Top 15 Transgender Athletes who have broken down cultural barriers over the years.

15 15. Balian Buschbaum (formerly Yvonne Buschbaum)

Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes (1)

Buschbaum competed for Germany in the pole vault before undergoing gender reassignment, at his retirement in 2007 he ranked 10th on the all-time pole vault performer list. In January 2008, Buschbaum announced that his new first name was "Balian", after the blacksmith in the movie Kingdom of Heaven, and that he would undergo gender reassignment surgery later that year. After the surgery, he said, “Courage is the road to freedom. I woke up in complete freedom today. The sky is wide open.”

14 14. Erik Schinegger (formerly Erika Schinegger)

Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes (2)

Erik Schinegger is a world champion skier. Previously known as Erika, IOC medical tests determined that Schinegger was male, which led to his decision to live as a man. Erikawas the world champion women's downhill skier in 1966 and was preparing for the 1968 Olympics when IOC medical tests determined Schinegger was male (with internal male sex organs) and disqualified Schinegger. He talked about his transition in his autobiography,My Victory over Myself: The Man Who Became a Female World Champion.

13 13. Andreas Krieger (formerly Heidi Krieger)

Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes (3)

Andreas Krieger was a German shot putter who competed as a woman on the East German athletics team. Born “Heidi”, Krieger was given anabolic steroids by coaches from a very young age without his knowledge. So masculinized by the drugs his coaches gave him, Krieger later chose to become a man undergoing a sex-change operation to become Andreas Krieger. Krieger retired from the sport in 1990 and underwent sex reassignment surgery in 1997. He has publicly said that he wishes he hadn't been drugged so that he could have discovered for himself what his gender preference was.

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12 12. Chloe Anderson

Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes (4)

Chloe Anderson plays women's volleyball at Santa Ana College in California. In fact she is the first transgender athlete in Santa Ana College.

In an interview with The Orange County Register, Anderson addressed the backlash she's received from some female college athletes. “People who say male-to-female trans athletes have a physical advantage have never taken hormones. It’s one thing to learn about it in biology class but another thing to live it."

11 11. Keelin Godsey (formerly Kelly Godsey)

Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes (5)

Keelin Godsey is a 16-time All-American in track and field, a two-time national champion, and holds the Division III national record in the hammer throw. Not to mention, he is the first openly transgender contender for the U.S. Olympic team. Godsey, who was named Kelly at birth, but has publicly identified as a male since 2005, competes as a female in the female division.

10 10. Jaiyah Saelua (formerly Johnny Saeula)

Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes (6)

Jaiyah Saelua was the first transgender national soccer player to compete in a men's FIFA World Cup qualifier for American Samoa in 2011. Saelua identifies as “Fa'afafine”, a person in traditional Samoan culture born biologically male but embodying both masculine and feminine gender traits. In an open letter to her Samoan community, Saeula wrote:

"Fa’afafine is the third gender specific to the Samoan culture, but the stereotypes associated with fa’afafine are mostly positive – a perspective that western cultures are freshly adapting to…A million transgender women can be visible in their societies and it truly helps when those women are well-known (i.e.: Janet Mock, Lavern Cox, Carmen Carrera, Caitlyn Jenner), but change comes from society members who do not understand or tolerate. They are the target."

9 9. Kye Allums (formerly Kyler Kelican Allums)

Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes (7)
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Kye Allums became the first openly trans athlete in NCAA Division 1, the top level of college athletics, when he played on the women's team at George Washington University in 2010. Allums started identifying as a male during his sophomore year and is now a 25-year-old activist, transgender advocate, public speaker, artist, and mentor to LGBT youth. When asked by Time magazine how he decided he was ready to tell people he was transgendered Allums recalled "Playing on a sports team, you become very close. These girls were like my sisters and having them refer to me using female pronouns every single second of the day and not knowing how that made me feel, I couldn’t keep playing like that."

8 8. Lana Lawless

Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes (8)

Born male, Lana Lawless underwent gender reassignment surgery in September 2005.

When Lawless, a retired police officer, won the 2009 Long Drivers of America title, the organization quickly changed their rules stating that female participants must have been "female at birth" to compete. The LPGA removed this requirement after Lawless sued for the right to compete in 2010. She released a statement to help clearly define her position after filing the lawsuit.

"I am, in all respects, legally, and physically female. The state of California recognizes me as such and the LPGA should not be permitted to come into California and blatantly violate my rights. I just want to have the same opportunity to play professional golf as any other woman."

In May, 2011, Lawless officially dropped her lawsuit against the LGA, who released the following statement. “The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) expresses its appreciation to Lana Lawless for raising the issue of transgender participation in its tournaments and other professional activities. Both Ms. Lawless and the LPGA are pleased that the litigation initiated by Ms. Lawless has been resolved in a satisfactory way, and applaud the LPGA members who voted overwhelmingly to remove the ‘female at birth’ provision from its by-laws.”

7 7. Chris Mosier

Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes (9)

In 2015 Chris Mosier won a spot on Team USA in the men's sprint duathlon, becoming the first trans athlete to join a U.S. national team that matches his gender identity, rather than the gender assigned him at birth. He is the founder of, a site dedicated to educating and helping trans athletes, and the executive director of GO! Athletes, a support network for LGBT athletes. Mosier began competing in triathlon in 2009 as a female and competed in his first race as a male in 2010 when he legally changed his name, and then began to receive testosterone injections.

"When I was considering transition, I didn't see any trans men who were athletes," he told The Advocate. "I didn't know it was possible to continue to compete through transition, and I thought I would go from competitive to middle-of-the-pack in races. But the opposite has been true. I've gotten more and more competitive in the male age group, working toward the elite level. My hope is that athletes who are questioning their gender identity can see me and hear my story and know they don't have to give up their identity as an athlete to live authentically."

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Mosier will represent the U.S. in the 2016 World Championship duathlon in Spain.

6 6. Dr. Bobbi Lancaster (formerly Robert Lancaster)

Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes (10)

Dr. Bobbi Lancaster is a transgender golfer and a successful and well-regarded physician in Arizona. Growing up in Canada as “Robert” Lancaster she enjoyed amateur golf success. Bobbi rekindled her passion for the game after she had gender-reassignment surgery to become Bobbi Lancaster in 2010. Only three years after the LPGA’s historic vote, Lancaster was the first transgender golfer to take part in LPGA Symetra Tour.

5 5. Caster Semenya

Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes (11)

One of the most famous transgender athletes internationally, is Caster Semenya. In 2009 after winning gold in the women’s 800 meters the IAAF began receiving e-mails from people who had doubts about Semenya’s gender because of her “masculine look” and incredible speed. Tests were ordered amidst accusations and leaked results showed that Semenya has no ovaries or a uterus. The IAAF will not confirm or deny whether the leaked results are correct. If the results are true, Semenya is intersex, and not transgender, as she is rumored to possess both male and female genitalia.

Although Semenya is able to compete; the IAAF struggles with how to define a person as male or female.

4 4. Fallon Fox (formerly Burton Boyd)

Fallon Fox is the first openly transgender athlete in the history of MMA (mixed martial arts). After a stint in the military, Fox flew all alone to Thailand for “gender reassignment surgery” in 2006. She was forced to come out publicly in 2013 after a reporter indicated he knew she was transgender. Since then there has been considerable controversy over whether or not Fox possesses an advantage over other female fighters.

3 3. Mianne Bagger (formerly Michael Bagger)

Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes (13)
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In 2004, by playing in the Women's Australian Open, Mianne Bagger became the first openly transitioned woman to play in a professional golf tournament. A current professional on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour, Bagger had gender-reassignment surgery in 1995. Prior to Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out, many saw Bagger as the most prominent transgender athlete in professional sports.

2 2. Dr. Renee Richards (formerly Richard Raskind)

Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes (14)

While she didn't dominate the tennis world, Renee Richards helped pave the way for trans athletes like Caster Semenya, Kye Allums, and Fallon Fox to compete in their chosen sports.

Dr. Richard Raskind was a pro tennis player and a renowned eye surgeon, but in 1975, after a highly publicized sex reassignment operation, Renee Richards emerged. In a court case that would act as a landmark decision in favor of transgender rights, the New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of Richards' right to compete as a woman after she was formerly barred from playing professionally by the United States Tennis Association.

1 1. Caitlyn Jenner (formerly William Bruce Jenner)

Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes (15)

Multiple publications have described Jenner as the most famous openly transgender person in the world since she came out in 2015.

Once dubbed “the greatest athlete in the world”, Caitlyn Jenner is more recently recognized as the quirky Kardashian dad of reality TV. A gold medal Olympic athlete, Jenner was one of the first people to land a spot on the front of a Wheaties box after dominating the decathlon at the 1976 Games in Montreal. Jenner became an American hero in such a way that only an athlete can.

After months of speculation Jenner officially identified as a woman, appearing on the June 2015 Vanity Fair cover as Caitlyn. In April, 2015 in a powerful interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Caitlyn Jenner came out as a transgender woman, stating "for all intents and purposes, I am a woman."

While the athletic world remains an intimidating place for many people who do not fit into prescribed identities, perhaps Jenner’s current spotlight will prompt a re-examination of prejudices towards transgender people.

(Video) Top 10 Famous Transgender Celebrities


Who are famous transgender? ›

NameBirth and death yearsNotable as
Leyna Bloom1990fashion model, dancer, and activist
Alejandra Bogue1965film, television and stage actress
Justin Vivian Bond1963singer-songwriter, performance artist
Chaz Bono1969actor, singer and activist
92 more rows

Who was the first transgender athlete? ›

One of the earliest high-profile transgender athlete was tennis player Renée Richards. Already a promising tennis player in the men's circuit, Richards underwent gender reassignment therapy in 1975 and started playing in women's tournaments a year later. Her discovery and the resulting media frenzy sparked protests.

Is there a transgender athlete? ›

Only one known transgender athlete has won an Olympic medal in a women's competition, the Canadian soccer player Quinn, who was assigned female at birth and identifies as nonbinary.

What is the testosterone level for transgender athletes? ›

The current IOC policy dictates that transgender women must have a testosterone level less than 10 nanomoles per liter, roughly the low end of typical male values.

Who is the famous transgender in India? ›

Naaz Joshi (born 31 December 1984 in New Delhi, India) is India's first transgender international beauty queen, a trans rights activist and a motivational speaker.

How many genders are there in world? ›

There are many different gender identities, including male, female, transgender, gender neutral, non-binary, agender, pangender, genderqueer, two-spirit, third gender, and all, none or a combination of these.

Does Olympic allow transgender? ›

International Olympic Committee issues new guidelines on transgender athletes. Athletes will no longer be required to undergo “medically unnecessary” hormone treatments to compete, the IOC said.

Who is the transgender athlete in the Tokyo Olympics? ›

Trans Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard Makes Olympic History : Live Updates: The Tokyo Olympics "Thank you to the IOC for living up to the Olympic values and showing that sport is for all and that weightlifting can be done by all types of people," Hubbard said after her competition.

What are the rules for transgender athletes in the Olympics? ›

Those who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the female category under the following conditions: 2.1. The athlete has declared that her gender identity is female. The declaration cannot be changed, for sporting purposes, for a minimum of four years.

Does NCAA allow transgender athletes? ›

In the decade since the NCAA established its previous policy allowing transgender athletes to compete, the controversy surrounding Thomas is the first of its kind. Those guidelines stated that transgender men should be eligible for men's college teams immediately.

Who are called athletes? ›

Definition of athlete

1 : a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.

What is the fairness in women's sports Act? ›

House Bill 972 would protect opportunities for women and girls in athletics by ensuring women are not forced to compete against biological males playing on women's sports teams.

How long does it take to transition from female to male? ›

Guidelines recommend people spend 12 months on hormone therapy before they get genital reassignment surgery (GRS). This operation involves recreating a person's genitals to that of the opposite sex. Removal of the gonads may be done as well.

Does testosterone make you stronger? ›

Testosterone acts on muscle cells by binding to a specific receptor protein, the androgen receptor. Upon testosterone binding, the androgen receptor signals to the muscle cell to activate the pathways that trigger an increase in muscle mass, called muscle hypertrophy. As a result, the muscle grows and becomes stronger.

How long does hormone therapy take to work for transgender? ›

The maximum effect will occur within one to two years. Decreased facial and body hair growth. This will begin six to 12 months after treatment. The maximum effect will occur within three years.

Who is India's first trending transgender? ›

Who is Khushi Shaikh? Khushi Shaikh is India's top transgender model, Youtuber, and social media influencer. Khushi was born on 11 November 1994 in Thane, Mumbai. Despite being transgender, Khushi is today the first model in India who has been at the top for the last decade.

Who was the first transgender person in India? ›

Early life

Narthaki Nataraj was born in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. She became aware of her feminine side at the age of 10. She found dance to be the only way of expressing herself.

Who is the first transgender MLA in India? ›

Shabnam "Mausi" Bano (शबनम मौसी) ("Mausi" noun. Hindi - "Aunty") is the first transgender Indian to be elected to public office (MLA). She was an elected member of the Madhya Pradesh State Legislative Assembly from 1998 to 2003.

What is a non-binary child? ›

Children who do continue to feel they are a different gender from the one assigned at birth could develop in different ways. Some may feel they do not belong to any gender and may identify as agender. Others will feel their gender is outside of male and female and may identify as non-binary.

What are the 4 main genders? ›

In English, the four genders of noun are masculine, feminine, common, and neuter.

What are the 11 types of sexualities? ›

This attraction is typically sexual or romantic. Sexual attraction describes a person's desire to have sex or form a sexual relationship with other people.
LGBTQIA+ stands for:
  • lesbian.
  • gay.
  • bisexual.
  • transgender.
  • questioning or queer.
  • intersex.
  • asexual.

Can transgender men get pregnant? ›

Transgender men can become pregnant through sexual intercourse with biological men, even during hormone replacement therapy, so correct contraception is necessary to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Transgender sex education is important to increase awareness of this issue among individuals and medical professionals.

How many transgender college athletes are there? ›

Transgender Athletes and College Sports

Transgender athletes make up a minuscule population of athletes across the nation, with even fewer going on to participate in college sports. Reportedly, there are only 32 trans athletes who have competed openly in college sports.

Is testosterone allowed in the Olympics? ›

The answer, according to the current rules, is to ban the athletes from certain events unless they agree to artificially lower their testosterone to a level set by World Athletics.

Who is the first transgender participated in Olympic Games? ›

New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard made history on Monday by becoming the first openly transgender athlete to compete at an Olympic Games, but she suffered a disappointing early exit from the women's +87 kg final after three no lifts in the snatch.

Who has become the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics? ›

TOKYO – New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard made Olympic history on Monday night, becoming the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Games. The milestone comes 18 years after the International Olympic Committee first created a policy to allow for transgender athletes to participate.

How many athletes compete in the Olympics? ›

Though the numbers change with each Olympics, over 10,000 athletes compete in the Summer Olympics and about 5,000 in the Winter Games. Part of that difference has to do with the number of participating nations — over 200 nations compete in the Summer Olympics compared to about 80 in the Winter.

How does the Olympics determine gender? ›

Testosterone levels remain the primary method of determining which athletes must compete with men and which can compete on women's teams.

What is the new NCAA transgender policy? ›

Beginning Aug. 1, 2023, participation in NCAA sports requires transgender student-athletes to provide documentation that meets the sport-specific standard submitted twice annually (once at the beginning of competition season and the second six months following) for one year.

What are the requirements for transgender? ›

About 95% of applicants go down a standard application route, the main requirements of which are: A declaration that they will live permanently in their acquired gender. A medical report of a gender dysphoria diagnosis. A medical report of any hormone treatment or surgery, or any planned treatments.

Can college athletes take testosterone? ›

On eligibility: Taking testosterone is legal in NCAA/IOC/FINA sports for treatment of gender dysphoria in trans men. T levels must be within an average male range, ergo, we have no testosterone 'advantage.

How many times can you transfer NCAA? ›

After the implementation of the one-time transfer rule last year, coaches cried that free agency had begun. Players could transfer twice in their careers, once as an undergrad and once as a graduate.

Is chess a sport? ›

Like all sports, chess has a defined set of rules and etiquettes. The International Chess Federation serves as the governing body of the sport of chess, and it regulates all international chess competitions. Additionally, the International Olympic Committee considers chess to be a sport.

Who is the greatest athlete of all time? ›

Greatest Athletes of All Time
  • 8) Babe Ruth. ...
  • 7) Deion Sanders. ...
  • 6) Pele. ...
  • 5) Michael Jordan. ...
  • 4) Muhammad Ali. ...
  • 3) Jim Thorpe. ...
  • 2) Bo Jackson. ...
  • 1) Jim Brown. In high school, he earned 13 letters playing five sports: football, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, and track.

How do athletes speak English? ›

Break 'athlete' down into sounds: [ATH] + [LEET] - say it out loud and exaggerate the sounds until you can consistently produce them.

Who is the oldest transgender person? ›

She returned to the United States in the early 1950s and her transition was the subject of a New York Daily News front-page story.
Christine Jorgensen
Christine Jorgensen in 1954
BornMay 30, 1926 The Bronx, New York, U.S.
DiedMay 3, 1989 (aged 62) San Clemente, California, U.S.
3 more rows

Who came up with transgender? ›

1960s. 1965 – The term transgender is coined by psychiatrist John F. Oliven of Columbia University in his 1965 reference work Sexual Hygiene and Pathology.

When did transgender become popular? ›

The term "transgender" as an umbrella term to refer to all gender non-conforming people became more commonplace in the late 1980s.

What are some famous people? ›

Some famous people
  • Joan of Arc (1412? - 1431): French heroine.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827): German composer.
  • James Cook (1728-1779): English explorer.
  • Charles Darwin (1809 - 1882): English naturalist.
  • Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955): German-born physicist.
  • Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948): Indian peace activist.
25 May 2022

Who is the youngest transgender? ›

Jennings is one of the youngest publicly documented people to be identified as transgender.
Jazz Jennings
BornOctober 6, 2000 South Florida, U.S.
OccupationStudent and television personality
Years activec. 2006–present
Known forTransgender activism I Am Jazz (2015) Being Jazz (2016)
1 more row

Is there transgender in animals? ›

Snakes, lizards, beetles, fish, and birds, to name a few, all exhibit “transgender” behaviors in which males imitate females to gain advantages, including reduced competition, better access to territory, and improved mating opportunities.

What are the body parts of transgender? ›

Transgender women may have breast development (often underdeveloped), feminine fat redistribution, reduced muscle mass, thinned or absent body hair, thinned or absent facial hair, softened, thinner skin, and testicles that have decreased in size or completely retract.

Who was the first non-binary person? ›

Elisa Rae Shupe

When did transgender become legal? ›

v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, et al., 590 U.S. ___, (2020) - the Supreme Court ruled that title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, color, national origin, extends employment protections for transgender people.

When did transgender become legal in America? ›

In 1975 Minneapolis became the first city in the United States to pass trans-inclusive civil rights protection legislation. In 1977 Renee Richards, a transsexual woman, was granted entry to the U.S. Open (in tennis) after a ruling in her favor by the New York Supreme Court.

How do you know if you're transgender? ›

You may feel: certain that your gender identity conflicts with your biological sex. comfortable only when in the gender role of your preferred gender identity (may include non-binary) a strong desire to hide or be rid of physical signs of your biological sex, such as breasts or facial hair.

What transgender means? ›

Transgender is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.

When was the first transgender surgery? ›

The first male-to-female surgeries in the United States took place in 1966 at the Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. The first physician in the United States to perform gender confirmation surgery was the late Dr. Elmer Belt, who did so until the late 1960s.

Who is the 1 famous person? ›

1. Dwayne Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, nicknamed “The Rock”, is the most famous person in the world as of 2022. Dwayne who was WWE champion wrestler earlier is now an actor and producer.

Who is a popular celebrity 2022? ›

Zendaya. Zendaya is one of the most trending stars of 2022 thanks to her extraordinary talent and success at the mere age of 26.


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