The final day of Branson’s first-ever Youth Forum featured Schuyler Bailar, an internationally celebrated inspirational speaker and a respected advocate for inclusion, body-positivity, and mental health awareness. Schuylar is the first transgender athlete to compete on a D1 athletics team. On Saturday, May 1, he joined the Branson community for a conversation about his own journey and to share his message of inclusivity.
In his presentation, Schuyler first shared his personal life story. He walked the audience through his childhood, from being bullied in girls’ bathrooms for “looking like a boy” to eventually deciding to grow his hair long and dressing more stereotypically female as a way to “fit in.” He talked about his eventual mental health deterioration and the process of finally realizing, and voicing, that he was transgender.
Though originally recruited for the Harvard women’s swim team, he went on from high school to swim for the Harvard men’s team. Schuyler shared the experience of his first-ever swim meet on a men’s team; “for the first time in my life I was competing as just myself, there isn’t all this baggage...I was just me.”
“That’s why I share this story with you all today, to prove that possibility, that you can be exactly who you are, whatever that means to you,” he said, adding, “you can be that difference from whatever people expect of you, and also do what you love. Your identity never has to hold you back from your passions.”
Schuyler went on to discuss gender vocabulary and then took questions from the audience. The Q&A session, moderated by Sydney Pearson ‘21, covered everything from de-stigmatizing mental health, to how parents and educators can support transgender children.
Schuyler’s story was a powerful reminder of the importance of inclusivity, acceptance, and being you, whatever that looks like. You can visit Schuyler’s website, pinkmantarary.com, to find resources and learn more.
Branson’s Youth Forum, Education Reimagined – Brilliance Redefined, was organized by students with support from DEI Director Dr. JuanCarlos Arauz and members of the Branson faculty.