AJAs 2017 Finalists


Slug/Label Transgender athletes
Date Aired or Published July 11, 2017
Media outlet where first aired or published: CBC New Brunswick
Name of Program:
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Fredericton
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

Dear Atlantic Journalism Awards, I would like to submit my story, "Transgender athletes thwarted in pursuit of university sports" (http://www.cbc.ca/1.4185714) in the Sports category for this year's Atlantic Journalism Awards. While it is a sports story, this piece took our audience far beyond the locker room or the final score of any game. I’d like to take you through how this story developed. The day I met Alex Hahn he told me how he used to be Megan. But now, after years of lying to himself, he was finally transitioning into a man. He had to give up many things: His name, his long shiny hair, his clothes. But he never thought he’d have to give up soccer too. And that, he said, was “killing” him. Two months later I was at CBC telling my producer about Alex. When I called him he told me he was taking time off university to concentrate on his mental health, but after I told him how important this story was, he agreed to have me interview him. After researching I found out transgender athletes were very uncommon. And those willing to talk about it with a reporter? Those were even more difficult to find. I spoke to a St. Francis Xavier human kinetics professor, an expert in the topic, who confirmed it had been incredibly difficult for her to find transgender athletes in Canada to research. None of those she had contacted lived in New Brunswick and even if they had, she could not give me names. After a painstaking search, Alex told me about a photo he saw in a Instagram transgender support group. It was the photo of Jacob Roy, another transgender person who also had to give up sports. That same day I messaged him and set up an interview. After my interview with Jacob I realized this was an issue that went past New Brunswick’s borders. I had the athletes and a professional who could verify this. But the next step was to get U Sports, the national governing body of university sport in Canada, to answer questions. And that, I must say, was the hardest part of it all. It took me more than 15 days of calling their offices, emailing their communications officers to land an interview. It was summer, people were out of their offices, but it was also a topic many had been used to ignore. Never before were they held accountable for these athletes. How could they? Most of these athletes had never before spoken up. As a three-month summer intern, I was expected to pitch and write stories while working on this long-term project that had already taken three weeks. In between pushing for the U Sports interview and reading their policies, I was calling Alex’s old coach and looking for teammates I could interview. Even though most had gone back to their hometowns for the summer, I was able to interview the team’s co-captain. Once the story was finally done, I had to work on the television piece and a script for CBC’s Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John radio current affairs. This is a story about athletics. But more than that, it’s a story about two men who were forced to give up the one thing that was there for them no matter their gender. It’s a story about Alex and Jacob being brave enough to give this international issue a face. And even though they did so with sweating palms and tight throats, they could stand up for the many others who are still crying with the lights off in the locker room.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

I was allowed to work on this story as a side project for a few weeks. It took me almost one month to complete, from the moment I came up with the idea to the moment the story was published.

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