A transgender New Mexico teen has been barred from the sport she loves because of her birth gender, but she isn’t taking her rejection lying down. In fact, after Caitlyn Jenner’s inspired speech Wednesday night at the ESPYs, she’s making her fight much more public than ever before.
Alex Trujillo is a rising junior at Laguna-Acoma High School in San Fidel, New Mexico, a small Southwestern reservation community. She was born male but transitioned to female between her freshman and sophomore years of high school, and wasted little time before attempting to continue her high school athletic career as part of the school’s girls volleyball team.
Laguna-Acoma coaches and officials had no issues with Trujillo’s involvement with the volleyball program. The state of New Mexico? That was a different story.
“I talked to the principal and the coach … [about] if it was OK for me to start going to volleyball conditioning,” Trujillo told ABC News. “And they said they didn’t see a problem with it, but they would check with the NMAA [New Mexico Activities Association] to make sure it was OK,” Alex said. “So I went to one day of volleyball conditioning, and a few days later I was told that I couldn’t [play]. … That was really devastating for me.
“I just cried. It may not seem like a big deal … but it made me feel like I was less than my peers, that I didn’t have the same rights and the same privileges. And it really hurt knowing that I was still seen as a male in the state’s eyes.”
In fact, the NMAA’s official stance is that there are no conditions under which Trujillo could compete as part of a girls team; the state’s official regulations hold that an athlete’s birth gender is the only gender for which they are eligible for state competitions.
That’s different from a number of other states, which have policies that range from near-immediate eligibility to compete to a one-year wait during the gender transition process.
As a result, Trujillo has emerged as a one-man protest squad, speaking out about what she perceives to be gender discrimination and rallying support behind transgender athletes nationwide, a process which she hopes will only gain significant steam after Jenner’s speech Wednesday.
“”I loved Caitlyn Jenner’s speech,” Trujillo told ABC News. “It was so inspirational and I’m really glad she’s finally becoming who she is. One thing she said about … thousands of transgender youth are coming out and finding themselves, and that really spoke to me.