PURPLE TIGER: RACING OUTSIDE THE BOX
PURPLE TIGER Can non-binary athlete Rach McBride show that everyone belongs at the start line?
PURPLE TIGER: RACING OUTSIDE THE BOX In a world that only sees two genders, professional athlete Rach McBride struggles with coming out as non-binary. Can Rach’s groundbreaking journey change the game for people of all genders?
Tenille Hoogland raced together with Rach McBride during her distinguished career as a sponsored professional triathlete between 2007-2013. As a fellow athlete, Tenille has had a front-row seat to Rach’s impact on the triathlon community. Now a coach and advocate for women’s health and performance, Tenille is committed to expanding diversity in sport. “Representation matters,” says Tenille. “If you know that there are people like Rach that are cheering for you, you won’t fall because you’re already there, ready to play. You belong on that start line.”
Rach’s mother Doreen has been Rach’s biggest fan through everything in life, from early adventures as a wild four-year-old skateboarder to supporting Rach’s path to professional sport. “We have always recognized from a very early age, preschool even, that Rach sat very much in the middle of the gender continuum,” says Doreen, a nurse. “When we first started discussing non-binary we were just so pleased and so relieved that there was a word now that just made so much sense. This is exactly what we knew all of Rach’s life. We were so glad.”
Up-and-coming Vancouver triathlete Brit Cooper has always found a home in sport. Rach provided inspiration to Brit first as an athlete, then as a prominent advocate for non-binary people. Brit has followed Rach McBride’s career closely since starting out in triathlon. Brit first knew of Rach from afar as a teenager and is now receiving encouragement and mentorship directly as an adult competitor. “Rach is very respected in the community and the sport,” says Brit. “Rach is not just a remarkable athlete but a remarkable person. Even knowing one safe person can make all the difference.”
Karlo Kowalcyyk is one of Rach McBride’s coaches who is widely recognized for his leadership in the Vancouver sports community. Karlo has been by Rach’s side during their decision to come out publicly as a non-binary professional athlete. “We have such ingrained concepts of what an athlete should be and Rach is re-defining that for their competitors,” says Karlo. “It’s breaking down barriers. It’s a really important evolution for us as humans.”
Kristen Gilbert is the Director of Education at Options for Sexual Health in Vancouver, where Rach McBride has worked as an Educator and Advocate for the past 11 years. Kristen's interview will touch on the power of public role models to youth with different expressions of gender and sexuality, and the positive long-term impacts on mental health. "It’s crucial that young people can see what is possible, in terms of their future selves," says Kristen. "Rach shows people young and old what is possible when we are able to be our true selves."