Yesterday, 28-year-old Keelin Godsey failed to qualify for the London Games in the women’s hammer throw competition. But as a highly visible trans athlete who’s helped raise awareness and spur the creation of trans-inclusive policies, he’s accomplished more than most Olympians.
Godsey, who was born Kelly, came out as a trans man in 2005. But because of his Olympic dream, he’s postponed any medical procedures, meaning he competes with women even though he identifies as a man.
At Nike headquarters in Oregon, where the three members of the U.S.’ female hammer-toss team were chosen on Thursday, Godsey finished fifth, still reaching a personal best of 231 feet, 3 inches.
Erica Rand, a gender studies professor at Bates University and something of a mentor to Keelin, tells The New York Times that when he came out at school, “we did not yet have a policy in place to support trans inclusion. So whatever happens at the trials, he has already been a part of history.”
And even with yesterday’s disappointment, Godsey is still the first openly transgender athlete to seriously compete for a slot at the Olympics. (It was only 2004, after all, that the International Olympic Committee ruled trans athletes could compete.) “I’ve still done more than most people that are trans have,” he said. “I’ve still competed at a level that most people haven’t. I don’t want to let not making a team be what brings that down.”