Tag Archive for Interview

An Interview with Bobbi and Jackie, A Talk About Inclusion

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Note: I don’t know who took that featured image of Jackie, but it’s great and I want to know. 

I’ve always believed that bike polo is, and has the chance to be, a model for other sports when it comes to how we address players who do not live by what our culture as a whole deems “traditional”. I use that word in full knowledge of how backwards it is, but it’s exactly how a good portion of America and indeed the world approach people who have identified in a way that isn’t the same way as the majority.

Bike polo, however, having formed up not so long ago, didn’t need to have the baggage of sports that were either separated by gender (or, hell, skin color), and also didn’t need to carry the testosterone-take-all mentality of other sports–not that we are clear of that, though.

When I came up with the desire to do this article, I was horrified. Not because of the topic, but because of the people I knew I needed to interview. Jackie and Bobbi are institutions in our sport–at least to me. Both represent players who are deeply involved in bike polo and who I deeply respect.

Th being said, I was also horrified of offending these two by saying something horribly wrong or insensitive. Being a PA boy in Lancaster doesn’t necessarily afford me much exposure to all the lifestyles that people have someone who hasn’t gone out of their way to better understand transgender people, I knew that there was a high likelihood that I’d put my foot in my mouth unintentionally and offend either of these ladies.

Still, I reached out to them both, and they both were quite willing to be interviewed. Below you’ll find the answers to my questions that both Jackie (J) and Bobbi (B) provided:

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Jackie

Bike polo is, despite attempts otherwise, a very heterosexual white male dominated sport. Why do you choose to be part of it?

(J) I do my best to stay competitive, but what I ultimately get from it is a momentary break from the rest of the world, in which I face many hurdles, get harassed, etc.. I choose to be part of bike polo because it’s a place where — despite the lack of diversity — I feel comfortable and safe.

(B)  I like bike polo for the bikes and the polo. I started playing as a commuter looking for more bike orientated activities to do and polo fit the bill.

Were you both self-identified as transgender before you started playing?

(J) My first foray into polo was in 2009 in NYC. I played there for a few months before moving to Philadelphia. It was at some point while I was in Philly that I started to question what has been going on with my gender and why I felt the way I did, which I couldn’t explain at the time. I wasn’t out then, but as I moved back to NYC I began figuring things out, meeting other trans people, and started the process of coming out.

Most of the veterans of NYC bike polo didn’t really remember me since I had only come out a handful of times before moving, but that worked to my benefit since I could introduce myself to them and everyone else the way I now identify, with my preferred pronouns (she/her/hers) and name.

 (B) I started playing when still presenting as male, even to myself.

photo by Cris Klee

Bobbi (photo by Cris Klee)

Bobbi, you just recently came out (this year, in fact)–how has the response been to that declaration in your bike polo community?

 Bike polo has been nothing if not supportive about my coming out as trans. Seriously, I got far more polo friends wishing me support and letting me know they are around if I need it than any other group in my life. I didn’t notice any polo people that unfriended me from FB. I’ve found the girls I know in polo have been super supportive and I may have fielded a request for LA once or twice already.

On the other side of that, Jackie, you’ve been playing for quite a while longer while identified as transgender. How do people approach you on that? Does it come up often or do people just not talk about it?

Although I’ve always had a lot of anxiety as to how people might react, I’ve found that pretty much everyone has been super respectful and supportive. I was got really worried before registering for LA6, but after talking to the (amazing) organizers about it felt more confident. They said something like “You identify as a woman, and it’s a women’s only tournament – I don’t see what the problem is.” And that was that, it wasn’t brought up again, it just was what it was. I really appreciate that I’m accepted for who I am and don’t constantly need to have discussions about it. At the end of the day, I just want to be out there playing polo like everyone else, not thinking about my gender all the time. Read more

An Apology and Explanation from Dillman

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As soon as the GQ article came out, my Facebook was flooded by people taking issue with/defending/getting frustrated with shares about Dillman’s comment centered around the Adidas ad. For those of you who aren’t aware, the comment taken from the article was:

“The Beavers know all of the players featured in each of the commercials by name, and they chuckle together at the Adidas ad – a documentary-style mini-profile of Britain’s all-female ‘Tornado Riders.’

‘They found like the six attractive girls in the sport and put them in one room,’ Dillman says. “It’s really funny to see it portrayed this way.'”

I reached out to Dillman that very evening and asked him a few questions, which he was more than happy to answer:

So let’s get right to it: was that quote taken out of context?

Yes it was out of context, yes it is being misinterpreted, but i still I find it regrettable those words are attached to my name. Why? Because people I care about have expressed disappointment and have had their feelings hurt. But I cannot change this now, instead I can own it, explain what I meant, apologize, and explore what I need to do going forward to avoid history repeating it’s self.

 What was the context?

I found it funny for bike polo to be portrayed in a cute, lovable, and high five and smile sort of way. The polo women featured in the spot are actually tough as fucking shit, talented, and at the top of the game. But Adidas felt the need to sprinkle in a little bit of glamour and sex appeal with their use of non polo playing, hired (assumption here) models.

 

Why weren’t polo playing women good enough? Was Adidas trying to sell the Nik’s ability to bust a ridiculous wheelie turn or that she looked really cute in Adidas?

 

I have to say though, despite being amused by the angle, I like the ad,  I like the exposure that it brings to the sport. I like that the 12,000+ hits it has on youtube represents thousands of people who have never heard of Bike Polo. I also like it entirely features women. But what do I know, remember I’m just a “little boy.”

Lots of players are frustrated by the representation of women in the first really big story about bike polo–what do you think about that frustration?

For those of you pissed off, offended, dissapointed, or hurt by the words, I am sorry. I hope that a little bit more explanation reduces those feelings.

 

 Regarding the story as a whole…

 

I would like to provide a little more context of the time we spent with the writer. All together the Beavers spent upwards of 40 hours with him, this all occurred within 1 month of the worlds. A time when competitive juices are flowing through polo like Miller High Life on a warm sunny afternoon in Milwaukee. What was published was that side of who we are, competition, win at all costs, personal challenges. This was what the author determined to be most digestible for his outlet, GQ.  We knew that going into the piece there was this risk. We were putting ourselves out there to the world and if there was a change the end result may not sit well with ourselves or the community. We also considered that to be a slight risk in the grand picture of the exposure the sport was sure to receive. So fuck it, we did it.

 

What was omitted was the part when I talk about how everything good I have in my life now is a direct result of bike polo. How polo brought me to my best friends whom in turn have become closer than family. I promise that was just as much apart of the story for us as anything about winning or competition, but we didn’t write the story, we were the subjects.

 

This is all been a crazy day. I never really considered myself to be a spokesperson  for anyone other than myself. Like everyone else out there, I got into polo because I thought it was neat, I stuck around because I enjoy it, I love it because of the people it has brought into my life. I again apologize that my name has been attached to words that have disappointed or hurt any of you. Going forward I will make sure to be better prepared for these situations and not give the press anything that could be destructive to others in the polo world or twisted in a way that has lost it’s meaning. I’m a good fucking dude, people that know me can vouch but we all make mistakes. It’s how they are handled that is most important.

 

Don’t make me post the Unchained Polo video again…