When Harvard recruited Schuyler Bailar, one of the country’s fastest high school swimmers two years ago, they offered her a spot on the women’s swim team. But a year later, Bailar was standing on the pool deck alongside the men’s team as one of the first openly transgender male athletes in a Division I sport, according to a 60 Minutes report.
With exceptional grades and some of the fastest times in the country, Bailar was a standout choice for Harvard’s women’s team. Soon after receiving acceptance, however, Bailar came to the realization that he identified as a man—an epiphany that reconciled years of identity confusion, but also left him wondering what his future as an athlete held, according to 60 Minutes.
“What about swimming? What about my body? What about surgery?” Bailar said he remembered wondering. “Like, everything at once. I was like, ‘But I want this, and I know I want this.'”
After speaking with coaches, he decided to swim on the woman’s team, but live his social and academic life as a man for the first time.
“I was struggling watching Schuyler, because he wanted to reinvent himself as Schuyler as a male, but was being held back by the athletic piece of it,” Stephanie Morawski, the coach of the Harvard women’s team, said. So, she referred Bailar to the men’s team, who had a spot for him. He’s competed alongside male swimmers ever since.
Once one of the fastest female swimmers, Bailar was accustomed to winning, and would likely have led the pack on the women’s team. On the men’s team, he places closer to the back, but has made peace with the transition.
“And it’s OK. It’s the way it is,” Bailar said. “And it’s also a lot of fun. It has other kinds of glory in it.”
Mobile users can watch the 60 Minutes report here.