A transgender athlete in Hawaii is setting her sights on the Tokyo Olympics after receiving approval from USA Volleyball (USAV) to compete in the women’s division.
Tia Thompson had been playing in the men’s division but—after meeting the requirements of the sport’s Gender Committee—will now compete in a women’s team.
“It took me three years to finally get approved with all the transitioning and hormone therapy and submitting all my paperwork to the Gender Committee,” Thompson told NBC.
In order to play on a women's team, USAV requires transgender women to complete hormone replacement therapy for at least a year and change their gender marker to female on official documents.
Thompson can now compete in a USAV-sanctioned event— the Haili Volleyball Tournament on Hawaii's Big Island—later this month.
It will be the first time an openly transgender person will compete in the tournament.
Thompson said that she was unable to share her true gender identity with her family growing up because of her “religious background”.
“As soon as I turned 18 and I moved out, I knew already and I started transitioning, I started taking hormones.”
She credits volleyball as the one constant in her life and hopes that the sporting world will become more inclusive.
"By me coming out and opening the doors, it [being transgender] will get more accepted," Thompson said.
Thompson has previously told Out Sports that there's been a "mixed reaction" in Hawaii to her inclusion on the women's team.
"Many uneducated people do have negative comments, which I understand because of the lack of education and information that people see on trans issues.
“However I received so much support, love and well-wishes from the volleyball community, my friends and, most importantly, my family and husband.”