Many years ago I participated in a boxing camp that was hosted by Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club. Newsgirls, for short, is a really special place for women and transgender folks looking to train and box in a recreational environment. (Newsgirls also hosts Shape Your Life, which is a fantastic program you can read more about here: shapeyourlifeboxing.com). The camps are 2 weeks of 10 sessions, and for 2HRs each weekday morning, you get the best workout ever, and you wake up sore every morning, and you love it cause it’s so good, and you go back because you’re hardcore.
Well, that’s how I felt when I was doing it.
One year the head coach, Savoy Howe, gave me a boxing glove, which was signed by Michelle Dumaresq. Written on the glove was “Never let anyone tell you your dreams are not within your reach”. It was a special gift because of the authenticity of the message.
Michelle Dumaresq is a Canadian professional mountain biking racer, has competed locally and abroad, and won numerous cycling awards. Her presence in competitive women’s mountain biking has been met with controversy, hostility, judgement, and at times, public protest because she is openly transgender. There have been those who have supported her as well, but her journey has been super tough, albeit amazing too.
In 2002 Dumaresq was profiled in Sports Illustrated in a piece called Gender Flap. You can also read about Dumaresq, in her own words, at this website. And for those who like documentaries, 100% Woman is about Dumaresq’s story, which you can view at Films On Demand.
Knowing about Dumaresq’s story and her resilience makes me feel grateful for Coach Howe’s gift and inspired by her words. It also reminds me that LGBTQ inclusive programming is important and with purpose.