As a Black queer female activist at the center of many different identities, Mikaela Adolphus says she often finds herself struggling to be seen.
“I feel like being intersectional allows me to relate to and resonate with different people and communities. What’s frustrating is that these different communities aren’t willing or able to understand the discrimination and the issues that other identities experience. I also kind of feel that people rarely see me for all of me, not just one part.”
A graduate of UC Davis in California and a former track-and-field athlete, Mikaela is well-acquainted with both the successes and the struggles that come with competition. Recently, a rash of bills were introduced across the country targeting transgender athletes and attempting to bar them from participating in high school athletics. Unfortunately, one of these bills, Idaho’s HB 500, was passed and signed by the governor.
While UC Davis implemented a transgender-inclusive athletic policy, Mikaela knows there can still be concerns.
“I’ve known one trans student athlete, and for them it was scary. There can still be issues with even the best-intentioned policies. You’re given options and you have to choose, but sometimes those don’t encompass everything a transgender student athlete might want.”
“No one is transitioning so they can get ahead or win—that doesn’t make sense. People want to be honest and open about who they are and should be allowed to live their fullest life. Athletic [organizations] needs to look at this from a humanistic lens, not just a competitive lens. This Sports could be the ONE thing that gives them peace. Why would we take that away from them?”
Since graduating, Mikaela has continued her advocacy in Black, queer, and athletic communities. And while she says sometimes it feels “like being on an island,” the work of intersectionality is too important to let her get dissuaded.
“We need to make room for a lot more regard for the experiences we have as individuals, not lump people together as groups. It’s not fair to assume one person can speak for all people’s experiences. If we don’t understand other perspectives, nothing is going to change.”