Gender Studies with Bi Felicia
The first time I watched roller derby wasn't empowering or inspiring. It was confusing - not in a “where's the ball?” way, but in a “why is this making me so sad?” way. I wanted desperately to be a derby girl but I was quite certain that it would never ever happen. Why? Because I was a dude.
I knew I was transgender but I had resigned myself to a lifetime in the closet. I'm a 6’7” 250 lb. human person and as far as I was concerned, that was the end of the story. I joined the Chicago Bruise Brothers on the night in 2011 that they chose the name Chicago Bruise Brothers. Hey, I was playing derby right? I joined some women’s leagues as a referee. I bouted, I captained, I administrated. When I broke my ankle I bench coached. When I stopped refereeing I announced. I eventually did fully come out of the closet via a Windy City Times profile in early 2014 - personally, I didn’t think it was a big deal that I identified as transgender and skated in the MRDA but the recognition was nice.
All that led up to a big milestone in the middle of 2014: I was Kind Of Good At Roller Derby. I was good enough at least. The Bruise Brothers went to BrewHaHa in Milwaukee for the first time and we lost a few very tough games. Spirits were really low but everyone had very nice things to say about how I’d played.
Something snapped in my head that weekend. I wasn't happy anymore. Derby stopped being fun as soon as I started playing well and I got straight up depressed about it. I had hustled so hard to get to where I was but all of a sudden I didn’t know why I was doing what I was doing. It wasn’t until August that I figured out what was wrong: I didn’t just want to skate roller derby, I wanted to skate on a women’s league - so I joined one. Until that point, I thought that there wasn’t a reason to pursue my gender further - to dress differently or to change my pronouns or any of the other things that come with a transition. I never knew what it meant to “live as a woman” until I started skating WFTDA. I never saw a reason to start hormone replacement therapy until then either. But there I was, hitting all those major life milestones just because I finally realized what kind of derby I should be skating. It kicked ass.
My first WFTDA league wasn’t a great fit for me. I started thinking about The Outfit a lot and this past June I resolved that as soon as my season ended I’d transfer over. For the last four years I’ve run the gamut of roles with a bunch of different leagues but I never quite felt like I fit in as well as I fit in with The Outfit. This is what I wanted when I first transferred to WFTDA. All of that hokey stuff about loving your league that I used to roll my eyes at? I’m embracing it wholeheartedly because I found a league that’s really unlike any other. Joining The Outfit was the best decision I've made in a long time. I get to be a strong as hell female alongside a bunch of other strong as hell females. It’s good dude. It’s real good.