Next in our profiles on out TGI athletes, meet Joe Kaiser! Joe is an amazing skater, referee, and a founding member of the TGI Athlete Network!
Pronouns: None, please
How do you identify or describe your gender?
I identify as transgender and exist as transfeminine. What I am has never been as important as where I’m going. Being a lady doesn’t make me any less of a man.
What sports do you currently play or have you played before?
I currently play roller derby for the Chicago Bruise Brothers and am the head referee for the Chicago Red Hots. I played JV volleyball in high school and used to swim at the YMCA.
What’s your favorite position?
I am a pure blocker. I prefer to take up an enormous amount of the track so that jammers are left with few options. I also have a tremendous posterior that can scoot people in lots of places they don’t want to go.
Are you a professional athlete?
I’m a software developer. I’m currently with ParkWhiz, so definitely look us up next time you’re looking for parking.
How would you describe your playing style?
Positional. I’m generally one of the biggest skaters on the track. Generally, 90% of my success can be attributed to being in the right place at the right time. It is very difficult to get around me, and I can use the full force of my body to change an opponent’s position.
What do you to get ready for competition?
Shut my brain off. I gotta get real dumb and chill and lower the stakes. As long as I play in a perfectly centered vacuum I can’t get in my own head.
What’s your most memorable sports moment or top accolade?
I refereed the 2013 USARS Men’s Championship game in Tulsa. It was the most heated game I’ve ever officiated, and it was the 10th game I’d refereed in three days, but the whole crew stayed calm and under control. It got incredibly physical, we had been understaffed all weekend, we were all exhausted, and the final score was determined by a single point – but I’ve never been more confident that we knocked it out of the park and did our duty as officials. The Bruise Brothers recently bouted the Capital City Hooligans and during one of the jams after their jammer picked up lead I effectively knocked their entire pack over to get our jammer out. That was fun.
Who are your athletic heroes?
Sound Guardian, the head ref for that USARS bout, is definitely a hero. In terms of competitive athletics, I’m gonna have to pull a McConaughey and say future me. Gotta keep chasing the person that I haven’t yet become.
What have sports meant to you as a TGI person?
The first time I went to see a women’s roller derby bout, I got exceptionally emotional. I didn’t have the right equipment to do something that resonated with me really strongly. I joined both a men’s league as a skater and a women’s league as a referee and in both communities I became comfortable with myself and my identity. Without an athletic community, especially one with a mostly female power structure, I don’t think I could have been as confident in the strength of my identity.
What do you think are the most pressing issues facing TGI athletes?
Please describe a particularly empowering moment for you.
When Ms. Dr. Simonis and I gave our first talk on gender policy in roller derby to a host league, the last question from the audience was whether we planned on giving the talk again. And we got applause. Maybe we are making progress. Also, the passage of the MRDA non-discrimination policy was pretty exciting and proud. It’s the most progressive policy I’m aware of in athletics, and I hope it helps a lot of people.
What advice do you have for young TGI athletes?
Don’t apologize for who you are. Don’t cast yourself as a stereotype. Take pride in what you were given and what you did with it. Build your own box if it helps, but don’t let anyone put you in theirs.
Is there anyone you would like to thank/acknowledge?
My tremendous coaches, my friendly teammates, and bona fide American hero Trannysaurus wrex.
This is the seventh in our series of TGI athlete profiles. Our goal with this series is to promote the diversity and awesomeness of TGI athletes and to help broaden and improve the cultural narrative surrounding us.
If you are a TGI athlete and you would like to join our group or be profiled, please send us an e-mail at TGIAthleteNetwork@gmail.com.