University of Minnesota

Distinguished Lecture Series

The Borghild-Strand Distinguished Lecture series is given twice yearly and exemplifies the Tucker Center’s commitment to community outreach and public education by making links to the Twin Cities metro and outstate areas. It provides a venue for the most influential individuals in women’s sports to share their knowledge and expertise. The Spring lecture is also sponsored through the Edith Mueller Park and Recreation Memorial Award.


2017 Fall Distinguished Lecture

Transgender Athletes: Challenging & Transforming Sports

Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Cowles Auditorium, Hubert H. Humphrey Center
University of Minnesota West Bank Campus


Event Multimedia


About the Lecture

In 2015, former Olympic Decathlon gold-medal winner Bruce Jenner famously announced her gender transition to Caitlyn Jenner. This unprecedented cultural moment created a public dialogue around what it means to be transgender, and in particular, how such definitions and transitions challenge our notions and practices of sex, gender and athletic participation. More than any other institution, sport is seen as a highly gendered activity: We have “women’s sports” and “men’s sports” and never shall that gendered binary be crossed. So what does it mean when someone who has been identified at birth as “female” transitions to being and living as male (and vice versa)? And how do such realities challenge and disrupt the sporting enterprise?

Because sport is built on the notion of an “equal playing field” there has been a particular resistance to male-to-female transgender athletes, beginning with Rene Richards’ deeply resisted attempt to compete on the Women’s Tennis Association tour in the 1970s. More recent examples of transgender athletes have included Kye Allums, the first openly transgender student-athlete to play Division I basketball [], and Minnesota native and transgender high-school student-athlete Zeam Porter, who testified before a Minnesota State High School League’s hearing as they shaped policy for transgender athletes []. On a national scale, those who oversee amateur and professional sports are adopting groundbreaking policies that determine who can play on which team and under what circumstances. As a result, a significant cultural shift is occurring: Transgender athletes challenge traditional beliefs and practices about sports as a “natural” extension of binary-based and biologically driven sex differences. These pioneering individuals are also challenging something more fundamental—the very essence of what it means to be, and to compete as, “female” and “male” in modern U.S. society.

The 2017 Distinguished Lecture featured a panel of experts who examined these complexities from a variety of perspectives: A scholarly critique that highlighted research on transgender athletes and their attempts to gain equality in the sportsworld; an overview of policies that are being developed and implemented in college athletics; and the lived experiences and insights offered by a transgender former athlete.

About the Panelists

portrait of Vikki KraneVikki Krane is Professor and Graduate Coordinator in the School of Human Movement, Sport, and Leisure Studies at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH. She is also an affiliated faculty member with the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, as well as an Affiliated Scholar with the Tucker Center. A sport psychologist by training, Krane’s scholarship examines sex, gender, and sexuality within a sport context. Her current research focuses on intersex, transgender, and lesbian athletes. She has authored numerous journal articles and book chapters in this emerging field, as well as given a number of keynote and invited lectures on LGBT sportspeople. Professor Krane’s work was recently recognized when she received the Excellence in Diversity Award from the College of Education and Human Development at BGSU.


portrait of Heidi JaynesHeidi Jaynes is in her 19th year as Head Volleyball Coach and Professor of Physical Education, Athletics and Recreation (PEAR) at Carleton College. Since 2010, Jaynes has served as the Associate Athletic Director and Senior Women Administrator. Her past accomplishments as a head coach have included being named Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Coach of the Year and American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Regional Coach of the Year. She has coached eight All-Americans and 12 AVCA All-Region student-athletes. As an athletic administrator, Jaynes is involved in managing compliance, gender equity and inclusion, program evaluation, game management, publications, and faculty and staff development. In 2014, Jaynes was instrumental in creating and chairing Carleton’s Equity Committee which authored the school’s Transgender Policy.


portrait of Brent DarahBrent Darah graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Sport Management major while competing for three years as a student-athlete and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Sport Administration. For two of the three years Darah competed, he was a member of the women’s cross country and track team. During this time, he came out as transgender and began medically transitioning while competing as a member of the men’s cross country and track teams. Darah broke many barriers as he became the first transgender athlete in collegiate cross/country and track at BGSU, as well as in the Mid-American Conference. Darah chose to come forward publicly with his story in 2016 after he discontinued his athletic career. He has garnered national attention sharing his personal history and sport experiences.


Previous lectures

Our Distinguished Lecture archive is available here. The archive includes abstracts, multimedia assets, powerpoints, and related materials.