New York (August 23, 2018) – Today, Athlete Ally announced that Shawn Gatewood will be honored at the Fifth Annual Athlete Ally Action Awards. Athlete Ally is a nonprofit organization focused on fostering inclusive athletic environments and mobilizing the athletic community to champion LGBTQ equality. The awards ceremony, which will also honor tennis icon Billie Jean King, will take place October 6th at the New York Historical Society in New York City.
In Fall 2017, Shawn faced transphobic violence and hate speech simply for playing rugby, the sport he loves, as a transgender athlete on the Raleigh Venom D1 Women’s Rugby team in Raleigh, North Carolina. During that season, a rival team filed a complaint with USA Rugby questioning his eligibility as a player because of his appearance. When the complaint didn’t result in him being barred from competition, the team then began to reach out to other teams asking them to sign on to a petition to have Shawn removed from rugby. Throughout this ordeal, Shawn has remained in compliance with all USA Rugby rules and regulations, and refused to be deprived of the sport that gave him solace, strength and community.
Shawn emerged from this experience more determined than ever to speak out for himself and the right of all trans people to live fulfilling lives free of violence and discrimination. Especially given the devastating trend of violence against trans people of color in the U.S., which claimed the lives of at least 28 people in 2017, Shawn has called for trans youth to be respected and protected.
“There has never been a more critical time to uplift the voices of young trans athletes like Shawn, and to give them the resources they need to thrive,” said Hudson Taylor, executive director of Athlete Ally. “Shawn is truly an inspiration. I stand with him 100% and am grateful for his strength, perseverance and commitment to building a more inclusive world.”
“I’m honored to accept this award from Athlete Ally,” said Shawn Gatewood. “None of us can take on the fight for equality and justice alone. From the unconditional support I’ve received from the Raleigh Venom team to this recognition, I know that I’m part of a community that will fight alongside me all the way. I’m so excited for the change we can bring together.”
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About Athlete Ally
Athlete Ally believes sport will change the world when it welcomes and empowers all people. As a leading national nonprofit working at the intersection of sport and LGBTQ equality, Athlete Ally works to end the structural and systemic oppression that isolates, excludes and endangers LGBTQ people in sport. We educate individuals and institutions to understand obstacles to inclusion for LGBTQ people and how they can build an inclusive culture within their athletic communities. We work to ensure sport governing bodies, teams and leagues adopt policies that reflect the diversity of their constituents. We incubate athlete activism to advance LGBTQ equality in and through sport.
The Fifth Annual Athlete Ally Action awards are made possible due to generous support from the National Basketball Association (NBA), Bloomberg LLP, HBO, Turner Broadcasting System, Citibank, Gatorade, Major League Soccer, KPMG, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, MillerCoors, Smirnoff, and Boxers NYC in addition to individual supporters and other corporate support.
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