LGBTQ API Athletes: Schuyler Bailar
Schuyler Bailar, who is 21 and currently attending Harvard University, is a transgender man on Harvard’s men’s swimming and diving team. Born to a white father and an Asian mother, Bailar is a 25-time National Championship qualifier and a member of Nation’s Capital Swim Club’s 2012 and 2013 National Championship teams. Bailar also set a US National relay record with teammate and future Olympian Katie Ledecky. Bailar began to struggle with how he was presenting himself to the world during his high school years. While he had not been fully conscious of his difference as a child, he always felt more comfortable dressing in t-shirts and cargo shorts and traditionally male presentation. But, people just assumed he was a tomboy.
Swimming was his outlet as he was growing up. It was his release, blocking out everything else and giving him peace. But after he broke his back in a biking accident in 2012, he had to find other ways to cope. The social pressures of high school and his struggles with identity took their toll. He fell into depression and developed an eating disorder. After being recruited by Harvard and electing to take a gap year after high school, it was in 2014 when he went to a gender workshop that he was able to realize that he was transgender.
In 2015, he had top surgery to remove his breasts and mammary glands. Through the support of his coach and team members, he competes on Harvard University’s varsity men’s team. Bailar was a star as a female swimmer with coaches confident that he would be an Olympic trials contender and he knew that he would be throwing that potential away as a male swimmer but decided that living authentically is more important to him. Bailar chronicles his experience on social media and through speaking appearances at schools and conferences and is an inspiration for everyone through his tenacity and authenticity. He is an example of how the complex nature of biological sex and gender is changing in sports.