Finding Her Place: Chloe Anderson Is Santa Ana College’s First Transgender Athlete

Game Changer / Chloe Anderson is the first transgender athlete in Santa Ana College’s 100-year history. / Liz Monroy / el Don

Breaking gender perceptions in sports is personal for Chloe Anderson

By Jorge Campos 

Kids can tell when someone is different, and they sensed that Chloe Anderson wasn’t like them.

Anderson knew she wasn’t part of the herd. She had the scars and bruises to prove it. Because the bullies were relentless.

“I remember getting beat up every day of the week for about seven years,” Anderson said.

Having more girl friends than guy friends, Anderson knew where she fit — with the girls. Her friends were girls. She was at ease with girls.

“At birthday parties they tell you to make a wish, some kids wish for a pool of macaroni and cheese,” said Anderson, “I wanted to be a girl.”

Her secret was locked away from childhood through high school. She began her research. She knew that in her mind she was a woman and wanted to know how hormone therapy could make her feel complete.

As a teen she tried to come out but her mom was not accepting.

“I found some clothing in her room when she was in high school,” Catherine Anderson said, “but I thought she was just crossdressing. I didn’t understand that she was transgender.”

Catherine learned to accept her child.

“When I found out there was nothing sexual about it I relaxed a little,” Catherine said. “We do live in a more accepting society now, I mean look at Bruce Jenner for Christ’s sake.”

Gender identity is how someone identifies themselves, whether male or female. Sexuality as an orientation includes straight, gay and lesbian among others. Anderson is a lesbian but her sexuality is asexual as she can be romantically connected to both males and females.

“I have a girlfriend,” Anderson said. “We understand each other since we’ve gone through a lot of the same experiences.”

When Anderson began hormone therapy she dreamed of playing volleyball on a women’s college team.

The California Community College Athletic Association grants eligibility based on the gender stated on an athlete’s birth certificate, but that can be changed through the courts. The NCAA, however, requires one year of hormone replacement therapy for a male-to-female transgender woman to compete.

“She was subjected to CCCAA eligibility requirements like any other student athlete. She cleared all those requirements, therefore she is eligible to participate on our women’s volleyball team,” said Assistant Director of Athletics Jason Kehler.

Anderson is one of three openly transgender athletes in California. The other two are still in high school. She is the first transgender athlete in Santa Ana College’s 100-year history.

“A player is a player. It doesn’t matter where they come from, their different orientation or background, or culture,” Head Coach Troy Abbey said.

This spring Anderson becomes the first transgendered athlete on the inaugural sand volleyball team.

“I am not an activist. I play volleyball. I think that’s where I can help spread the word for the community,” Anderson said.