The first of our profiles on out TGI Athletes, meet Maxwell Schneider!
How do you identify or describe your gender?
I was assigned female at birth and I identify as transmasculine, which is a nonbinary identity that is masculine of center.
What sports do you currently play or have you played before?
I currently play roller derby for the Ohio Roller Girls in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. I have played girls’ competitive ice hockey with the Ohio Flames (Midwest Elite Hockey League) for about 9 years then played for the Ohio State Women’s Club Hockey Team, and played co-ed ice and roller hockey before that. I have also played travel soccer and swam on a local swim team. Played some intramural basketball and softball briefly as a youngster.
What’s your favorite position?
Are you a professional athlete? If not, what do you do as a “day job”?
I wish. I work as an employment coach at a local gluten-free bakery, doing job skills training and overseeing supported employees that have autism. And I make music and zines but don’t really get paid to do that.
How would you describe your playing style?
Aggressive, dedicated, and focused. I need to try to have more fun with it, sometimes.
What do you to get ready for competition?
I need to spend a lot of time alone. I do not like to be very talkative or social when I’m nervous and I’m pretty much always nervous before games, so I like to listen to music and warm up/stretch out on my own to get focused and calm.
What’s your most memorable sports moment?
Winning MVP Jammer at the WFTDA 2012 North Central Regionals and the moment we beat Rat City at the WFTDA 2013 Championships to move on to play Gotham.
Who are your athletic heroes?
My heroes are my friends. The people I know who inspire me to work hard and be honest and accountable and driven every day. So my teammates, mostly, and some other good buds I have in the derby community.
What have sports meant to you as a TGI person?
In some sports settings, they have meant compartmentalization and erasure of my identity. They have meant perpetuating gender stereotypes and keeping me from recognizing certain things about who I am. But, more recently and most importantly, roller derby has helped me discover more about who I am and has fostered a positive environment for me to explore that identity and for it to flourish. Derby has also helped me to become more comfortable with my body physically.
What do you think are the most pressing issues facing TGI athletes?
I can only speak to my experiences. But personally, as someone with a non-binary identity, I think identity erasure and general trans inclusion is incredibly pressing. Most sports are either co-ed or mens’/women’s specific and many of the mens’/women’s sports are gender segregated in a way that is not inclusive of binary or nonbinary trans folks. My biggest struggle is figuring out where nonbinary folks fit in the grand scheme of things. Professional and highly competitive sports are generally always gender segregated and it makes it hard to know where there is a place for me to compete when I don’t necessarily feel comfortable on men’s teams OR women’s teams.
Please describe a particularly empowering moment for you.
This may seem really small, but recently, at practice, we were finishing up a drill and a teammate said, “great job, ladies” and they looked at me and said, “Oh! No! Just kidding! Good job, people!”. It may seem like a small and seemingly insignificant thing, but helping people to understand and respect my identity and pronouns and how that affects their language is a really important and powerful thing and it matters. Little things matter.
What advice do you have for young TGI athletes?
Make a space for yourself. Because they world isn’t going to make one for you. Figure out where you feel comfortable and try to figure out how to make it work. Create a good support group for you. Find other people who understand TGI struggles, because sometimes, when things are confusing or you don’t feel like you fit, it’s nice to be validated by someone who gets it and it’s nice to have community in that struggle. Finally, take care of yourself. Do what you need to do to be safe and comfortable.
Is there anyone you would like to thank/acknowledge?
My derby league for always being so supportive and understanding. My family for their endless love, support, and encouragement. And my good buds for all of the same reasons! And, of course, the Trans, Gender Non-Conforming, and Intersex Athletes Network for existing as a source of education and support. <3
Any shameless self-promotion?
This is the first 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 be profiled, please send us an e-mail at TGIAthleteNetwork@gmail.com.