Highlights from Q&A with NCAA Athlete Schuyler Bailar

On Thursday, November 19, Gunston students and staff joined award-winning NCAA Athlete Schuyler Bailar via Zoom for a Q&A session, the first presentation of the newly announced Diversity Leadership Speaker Series. 

Schuyler Bailar was one of the nation’s top 20 15-year-old breaststroke swimmers. By 17, his relay team set a national age group record. A 25-time National Championship Qualifier, a two-time All-American, he was recruited by and swam for Harvard University on one of the winningest teams in Harvard’s history. 

Schuyler is also the first openly transgender athlete to compete in any sport on an NCAA Division I men’s team. Schuyler’s difficult choice – to transition while potentially giving up the prospect of being an NCAA Champion – as a female swimmer – was historic and timely. His story has appeared everywhere from The Washington Post to 60 Minutes and The Ellen Show.

Students asked questions ranging from how did you deal with bullying? Do you think insurance should cover surgeries? After you transitioned, what was it like competing as a man? What was your major in college? Can you explain the role of hormones—estrogen and testosterone and how they work? How did you tell your parents? and more.

A few highlights include:

How can I expand my own DEI knowledge base?
“Diversify your social media feeds. Follow people who are putting out educational content about their experiences.” 

How did you stay motivated as an athlete when you are struggling to get better? 
“Remind yourself why you are there. It is easy to always focus on achieving things and you can get stuck. The reason I was swimming is because I love being in the water, it was a privilege. Stop getting stuck on the output, the results. Center yourself and ask yourself why are you here? Why are you doing this? How do you feel when you are doing this activity? If you are still struggling, take some time off to reset and reconnect with yourself.” 

What inspired you to start speaking about this?
“I was asked to do an interview with Swimming World Magazine, and I decided to be open and honest from the beginning because I never saw anyone like me (trans athlete) in the media as I was growing up. I was always searching online for someone like me and I could never find anyone. In telling my truth, I wanted some kid out there, who was maybe on Google, looking for a trans athlete or someone out there that has had this experience, and to be that somebody that pops up in their search results to essentially say to that little kid “You are allowed to exist.” 

More information can be found online at:

Next up: The topic for December is neurodiversity and learning differences. 

Schuyler Bailar presents a Q&A to Gunston Students