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5 hunky sports figures who are #FlippingExhausted over anti-trans sports bans

Donovan Hewitt, #FlippingExhausted, transgender, transphobia, laws
Donovan Hewitt

Athletes and sports figures are flipping exhausted by the recent wave of transphobic legislation nationwide, so they’re making it known through the #FlippingExhausted hashtag.

So far, 12 states have passed laws banning trans students from playing on sports teams matching their gender identities. Additionally, at least 15 states are enacting or considering bans on gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

The hashtag — launched by Freedom for All Americans, a bipartisan campaign to win LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections nationwide — has given gymnasts, sports fans and allies a chance to speak out against the hateful laws. Here are five hunky sports figures who have already used the hashtag and what they’re saying about transphobia in politics and sports.

1) Connor McCool


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A post shared by Connor McCool (@connormccool_)

McCool, a gymnast for the University of Illinois, recently competed at the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) men’s gymnastic championships at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma.

While there, McCool wrote in a Twitter post, “Thrilled to be competing at the NCAA championships today. At the same time I’m #flippingexhausted that across the country and in the state of Oklahoma, lawmakers are pushing legislation targeting trans youth and their families. I’m standing with trans youth and you should [too]!”

“NOBODY should be discriminated against for who they are,” he wrote in a longer Instagram caption. “With data showing that over 80% of trans people have contemplated suicide, the only thing they need is our love and support.”

2) Mason Marek


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A post shared by Mason Marek (@mason_marek)

Marek, a gymnast and former coach who currently works as an exercise physiologist, shared a Twitter video of his flashy floor routine along with the message, “I’m #FlippingExhausted of the anti-trans policies and nature of competitive gymnastics. As a LGBTQ+ MAG [men’s artistic gymnastics] athlete who also trains and competes WAG [women’s artistic gymnastics], my heart breaks over the failures [of] the sport regarding supporting the trans gymnastics community.”

“While within the NAIGC [National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs] there are policies [that] promote inclusivity: in an effort to reduce the binary and gendered aspects of the sport, the NCAA fails to support their trans and non-binary athletes. NCAA needs to do better,” Marek added.

The NCAA’s current policy is for the rules of transgender participation in each sport to be determined by each sport’s national governing body. Outside of that, NCAA guidelines require trans athletes to regularly document their sport-specific testosterone levels four weeks before their sport’s championship selections (and periodically afterward).

3) Donovan Hewitt


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A post shared by donovan hewitt (@donvsthewrld)

Hewitt, a gymnast with Ohio State University, recently said in a Twitter video, “Competing at the NCAA Men’s Gymnastic Championships is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m thrilled to have the chance. But I’m #FlippingExhausted that the lawmakers keep attacking transgender kids and their families.”

“No one should have to face discrimination simply because of who they are,” he added. “To trans youth and their families: I see you, I support you and I believe in you.”

Hewitt is majoring in political science and hopes to attend law school and become an attorney in civil rights or immigration law. He has said that his greatest sports thrill is sticking a dismount that makes the crowd go crazy, but he has also talked about the pressure he feels as one of the few Black gymnasts competing in the NCAA.

“Once we got out of the general (locker room area for gymnasts), I started to realize, ‘Oh, Black people don’t do this sport,’ and I started to realize I was different than everybody else that was winning and placing,” he wrote. “It’s not like I felt something bad was happening, but I just wanted to make sure that I was representing the community well.”

4) Blake Bonkowski

Bonkowski — a trans man who co-hosts the LGBTQ gymnastics culture podcast “Half In, Half Out” — posted a Twitter video in which he laid out a powerful case for why sports organizations should oppose trans sports bans.

“There are openly LGBTQ+ athletes in every sport and there are openly trans and non-binary athletes in college gymnastics, and we’re asking them to travel to a place that is not safe for them, and that is not fair,” he said. Traveling to these states can also make other queer sports fans and their families fear for their own safety, he added.

Related: This hunky trans male swimmer is blowing conservative lies about athletes out of the water

Bonkowski has previously talked about how queerphobia made him leave gymnastics.

“Nobody ever said to me, ‘You can’t think you like girls’ or ‘You can’t be here, we think that you’re going to grow up and be a boy.’ People were just like, ‘You’re weird’ or ‘Why are you wearing that?’ or ignoring me or not coaching me… I just knew I wanted to be there, and then eventually I didn’t,” he said.

“Our work doesn’t end until every gym is a safe, welcoming place for an LGBTQ+ child or adult to do gymnastics, to work, or to just be a fan.”

5) Alex Reimer


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A post shared by Alex Reimer (@areims12)

Reimer helped draw attention to the #FlippingExhausted hashtag by writing an article about it for the LGBTQ sports website Outsports, where he serves as the deputy managing editor.

“Nearly 240 anti-LGBTQ bills have already been proposed nationwide this year,” he wrote. He also noted that this year’s NCAA women’s gymnastics championship was held in Texas, a state where the governor is trying to prosecute parents of trans kids for child abuse.

Reimer is a former radio broadcaster and longtime sportswriter. He made headlines in 2016 for coming out during an interview on the “Kirk & Callahan” sports talk show on Boston’s WEEI radio station. Reimer then continued to publicly mention his sexuality in his own broadcasts.

“I don’t hide my sexuality when I’m talking with my actual friends, so I never saw a reason to do it on the air,” he wrote of his broadcasting days. “Admittedly, sometimes I took the conversation to unnecessarily extreme levels, boasting about hedonistic late-night bathhouse visits and sweaty nightclub interactions. It turned into a crutch for me, and over time, I made an effort to become more judicious about which parts of my weekend I shared.”