saving derby’s soul

Roller Derby has been an amazing place for me to exist as a queer and trans person. It hasn’t always been that way. Not for everyone. This week I’m talking to someone who helped make it as awesome as it is today. Her name is Gloom <3


Callie 0:00
Major shout out to Melissa and Ron for becoming new patrons this week. Thank you friends love you lots. My name is Callie Wright and this is Queersplaining

Gloom 0:10
I fought roller derby. Roller derby tried to kill me. Some people say roller derby saved by soul. Roller derby tried to destroy me and I fought it and I won.

Callie 0:20
This is Sarah, her Derby name is Gloom. And since this is a roller derby episode, that’s what I’m going to use from here on. Gloom has had, well, a journey in roller derby.

Gloom 0:32
Guess it starts in 2011, where I went to see my first roller derby game, I was a closeted little trans girl, and I went to go watch a game. And about halfway through it, I just started crying. And I didn’t know why. I didn’t really completely understand why. I just saw a bunch of strong, powerful women doing stuff. And my wife asked me what’s wrong. And I just told her is just like, I want to play Derby. But I don’t have the right parts to do that. I had a friend who taught with Derby lights in town here, which is a fitness focused version of Derby. That was for people who didn’t want to get into the whole competitive end of things, but just kind of wanted to play a safer, less contact oriented version of the game. She alerted me that she had found out about a men’s team forming in Chicago. And I said, cool, that’s what I think I am not in those exact words. But more or less, just like —

Callie 1:53
The head concept, but not so much the words.

Gloom 1:56
Right! I was just like, yeah, obviously the reason I was crying was because I want to play a sport not because of the gender of the people playing the sport or what it represented to me. Certainly not because of the years of internalized misogyny that told me to view women as weaker. And now that I saw some women doing strong things, I was just like, what is this feeling inside me as I am a six foot seven assigned male at birth person who thought for about a decade that she was too tall to be a woman. So I joined the Chicago bruise brothers here in town. I joined on the day that they chose their team name, I guess that we chose our team name because they said it’s just like, hey, how does everyone feel about the name Chicago bruise brothers All in favor? Everyone just raise their hands are like Okay, so that was my first introduction to the world of roller derby. We’re now a team that has been around for well, ever since then. So about eight years now.

Callie 2:57
So did you go like just to hang out? Or did you actually practice with them that day?

Gloom 3:00
I actually practiced with him that day. I had skates that were if you can believe it. Even though I have the biggest skates. My feet are gigantic. And the skates I got that day were actually too big, because I did not realize that skate sizes ran a size bigger. So I had skates that were too big. I was probably wearing jeans or something. But yeah, I just kind of tried to learn how to skate. I bought my first pair of skates on my 25th birthday, which was about two weeks before I started and it’s been like trying to teach myself on the side. I one of the founders of the team Princess A Pauling who’s still with the team today. He told me that you know, it’s if I worked hard at it. And granted like neither of us had ever played in a derby game before. So he was you know, taking on this early mentorship role for — Yeah, this is how derby as you know, we don’t know anything, but we pretend like we do. And I was not even a little bit considering my gender in this at the time. I was just like, yeah, I’ll do this, you know, at the little back of my head. It’s just like, yeah, but I’m not like other men, you know, not all men are men. So — A few months later, I joined one of the women’s leagues in town, and it was the Windy City Rollers I joined and I’ll give you a spoiler right here. I’m gonna say some not nice things about them. But I actually quite like them now. They have made it up to me. They have you know, grown a lot. However, you know, seven years ago, I didn’t have a lot of fun. I have cried a lot of tears over what happened there. So I joined the Windy City Rollers as a referee about three months in. Something in my brain said, Okay, well, you know, I want to play the sport, but also it’s a women’s sport. And there’s something weird inside me and I kind of want to be near where the women are. And so be on that and I can be like, but I won’t be one of the creepy guys. But in the whole time, I’m just like, Oh, yeah, I just look like a dude, this sucks. Man about six months into it, the officiating team, they’re rolled out a new membership policy, the highlight of which said you couldn’t be a member of more than one league.

Callie 5:38
Now, a bit of background would probably be helpful here. In the derby world, you might hear the word team and the word league used interchangeably. For the purposes of clarifying a league is usually what you call one cities Derby organization. Some cities have more than one but most don’t. For example, Los Angeles has a league called Angel City Derby. That league is made up of several teams. Depending on the size, some leagues may only have one team, some leagues may have several, also a word on acronyms, you’re going to hear references to the WFTDA. That’s the women’s flat track Derby Association. And you’re going to hear references to the MRDA that’s the men’s roller derby Association. Anyways, the league that Gloom had joined to officiate was a WFTDA League, the team that she played for, wasn’t yet officially a member of the MRDA. But that’s where they were headed. The rule had always been that An official at her WFTDA league couldn’t belong to more than one WFTDA league. But they were changing the rule to say you couldn’t be a member of any other league anywhere else. Apparently, someone on their crew was taking advantage of resources and not living up to their obligations because of their belonging to another league. But Gloom had 130% attendance rate. So she pushed back,

Gloom 6:53
You know, I kind of pushed as far as I could. And at the time, I was very crying all the time. You know, it was very difficult for me to go through I think this was before I had a regular therapist, I met with the person who was the president of the league at the time with somebody who is responsible. And there’s like, yeah, there’s all these policies, you gotta step through in order to actually, you know, change a policy that would result in a member being, you know, denied eligibility to the league, they asked me, I said, Well, you know, if I have to have a choice, I’m gonna go with the league that didn’t ask me to pick. So, you know, sorry, but bye?

Callie 7:35
When Gloom’s team, the Bruise Brothers was formed, they weren’t initially a member of the men’s roller derby association that MRDA, you needed a certain number of games under your belt to qualify, eventually, at the end of 2013, they did get there, they applied and they were allowed in. And that’s when Gloom got to see the MRDA message boards for the first time.

Gloom 7:57
And there was a thread where people were chatting about whether trans skaters should be allowed. And but, uh huh. And I mean, to their supreme credit, the kind of general conclusion was just like, Oh, well, you know, it’s, we don’t really want to make a policy about it. If it’s not gonna affect anyone right now.

Callie 8:23
They wanted to have a trans skater to ask about their trans policy. Novel idea, right? Gloom was nervous though. Once her team joined the MRDA she was worried she wouldn’t be able to play anymore. And at the time, the women’s flat track Derby Association had a policy that said you had to have quote, medically appropriate female hormone levels to play there.

Gloom 8:45
I thought there was no way I qualified to play women’s Derby. I was just like, yeah, I still look like all of this, you know? I’m still very tall and stocky, had not female at all. And I had some very, you know, misogynist ideas of what a woman looked like. And after I saw this thread, where people were discussing what the gender policy should be, where they said, you know, lots of generally Okay, things they said, it’s just like, yeah, we’re not really comfortable as cis people writing this policy. And they said, we’d much rather have a trans skater who could inform us and I was just like, Hi, me. Hi. Hi, that’s me. And I got the chance to write rather than a gender policy. This was kinda unusual at the time, I decided rather than gender policy to write a non discrimination policy that I submitted and that they voted on and in the back of my mind, I was kind of thing it’s like, boy, wouldn’t it be funny if the men’s roller derby Association in this women’s sport was the one that has this progressive inclusive gender policy to kind of push the other leagues have people come up to them and say it’s just like, well, if the men’s Derby association is a better policy, why are y’all doing this? I don’t know if that directly impacted it, but I like to hope it did because the policy for the WFTDA became a lot better like a year later,

Callie 10:18
the gender policy for the WFTDA is kind of long and wordy but the relevant piece is an individual who identifies as a trans woman, intersex woman and or gender expansive may skate with the WFTDA charter team. If women’s flat track roller derby is the version and composition of roller derby with which they most closely identify. Anyways, the MRDA took a vote on Gloom’s non discrimination policy, and it passed pretty much unanimously,

Gloom 10:48
it was almost exactly as I had written it, that said, Hey, we do not discriminate on the basis of gender, whether it’s for coaches, officials, volunteers, players, whatever that was, I guess one of my first Derby accomplishments in the public sphere. And you can see there are plenty of women who play MRDA roller derby now on my team, there are three women that we know of. Around that same time that the MRDA non discrimination policy comes out. A friend of mine had done an interview with the Windy City times the gay newspaper here in Chicago, just about playing roller derby as a transgender person, non binary but assigned male at birth. A member of the Windy City rolls at the time. The interviewer asked them, Is there anybody else who I could talk to about this? And they referred this interviewer to me. And at the time, I was just like, Okay, well, I’m not that interesting. I am just someone who looks like a boy was called a boy all my life thinks I’m a boy and I play a men’s sport. Except scratch that last one. I actually think I’m woman like I have that part in my head like I have. I know that, I hope but I’m like this doesn’t really affect plans, like why should anyone care about this, but the article kind of more or less served as my like, coming out to the broader community. A few months after that, my team went to our first tournament, which was the Midwest brouhaha in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And we thought we were going to do real great. And we lost both our games by kind of a lot. At the end of the weekend, everybody was very sad. And then I started getting depressed because I have depression. And I kind of said to my teammates, you know, it’s just like, you know, I should do better. And everybody on my team is really like, What are you talking about? You did great. And it’s me, who’s, who’s terrible. And like, even one of my coaches at the time said, it’s just like, Oh, you know, who had like, chewed out the team told me after it’s just like, the only people exempt from that where you and this other guy. And, you know, I was just like, well, what is the point because I joined this because I had some big emotional push in this direction that said, I need to do this, I have this you know, feeling in my heart. And now I’ve gotten to this point where I am kind of good at it. And it doesn’t matter and I feel terrible. And so my bright idea over the summer, I was like very depressed going to practices for the next, you know, couple of months after that I got the idea to maybe like, tell the Windy City Rolllers, but at the time we’re on this, you know, kind of tear to playoffs. They were doing really well. And I was just like, Look, yo y’all are practicing for playoffs. You know, maybe you need someone who’s like kind of bigger like me, and I can like come and you know, play with your B team and against you.

Callie 14:15
And on top of this Gloom’s friend, the non binary person who had gotten her that interview, kept giving her the nudge, hey, come skate with us. The policy that pushed her out of the league before only applied to officials not to actual skating players, so she could try out if she wanted to.

Gloom 14:30
I was very torn at the time. But then I was like, well, I could do both teams.

Callie 14:36
And remember at this point, the WFTBA’s policy was still that you had to be on hormones to compete as a trans woman. But that really only applied if you were going to be skating against other leagues. She could still do scrimmages within her own league.

Gloom 14:49
Yeah, I could just do that. And just you know kind of scratch that girl itch I have and then the rest of the year I will play with the Bruise Brothers and you know, do that and I can kind of like treat my men’s experience as you know, kind of cross train for the other one and things like that. It’s just like I realized that this whole time you know this it took me three years for it to dawn on me. But it wasn’t that I wanted to play roller derby I wanted to play women’s roller derby. That was the thing that was making me cry. Duh. So, I applied there, I got to transfer onto their farm team. That’s when I started going by the name Gloom. It was derived originally from the term June Gloom, which was a good name and I just shortened it to Gloom because I just preferred that but it was referred to like a Southern California weather phenomenon where it gets a little cloudy, and people are just like, oh, June Gloom, it’s just like, whatever. I thought it was really funny for some light cloudiness to knock you on your ass. And the other part was kind of in honor of this tournament, I had gone to Midwest brouhaha was June 1, and I got really depressed there. And that was kind of what kicked off my whole switch. Not long after that, this was in the fall of 2014. And I was watching things at a watch party for the Windy City Rollers at the playoffs at the time. I was sitting there and I was watching them play and I was just getting real depressed. And I just saw these playoffs as it’s like, I want to be there and I just want to be part of that world. You know, very little mermaid too bad. I don’t do hormones. I could do hormones. And so this horrible gender policy was kind of what was the spark that says, like, no, I could I could do the actual transition thing. I could push that along. Cool. So however, you know, at the time, I was, you know, there were it was a little wobbly, I was still very, you know, happy and naive and very optimistic about everything, you know, I could still kind of thought everyone kind of liked me, I got along with everybody. But some cracks were showing, um, there was somebody who was, you know, who was asking for some medical details on me just still, you know, so they had it on file, and they asked me if I was taking hormones, and I was like, No, not yet. Why? The answer they gave is, well, I have to worry about everyone else’s safety too. Because hormones are a miracle drugs that apparently makes you worse at hurting people. Um, yeah, that’s that and so I filed a complaint about that, and, you know, got a apology for that. But at the same time, you know, things were there were little things, somebody from the executive board, reopen the gender conversation at the league. And they said, Okay, well, what about someone who’s only a woman for you know, the two hours a week they’re at practice and, you know, they’re not a woman. Otherwise, just like, kind of this? Like what I like to call the weekend trans theory. Come on, man. That’s not that’s not a thing. But we like to trot that out is the like, the big Boogie Tran in the room that gets you.

Callie 18:34
Boogie Tran!

Gloom 18:37
Yeah, I just came up with that. The person who brought that up was one of the captains on one of the home teams and I was just like, Oh, I’m uncomfortable, I don’t want to skate with them. Um, but I was still kind of going through it. I felt real good about it. Um, and then we went to the draft party one night where they were going to choose, you know, who’s going to be on each team for the next year. And I was the only one who didn’t get put on a team. There were people who still has trouble standing upright on skates, who got drafted on the team, people who hadn’t even shown up to the party because they were so certain they weren’t going to get drafted, who got drafted. And then there was me, who had to go hide in the corner crying because I had been rejected and I didn’t know why. And the feedback ended up getting was very silly. It told me things like that I needed to work on my control that I need to rein in some of the back blocks and the high blocks and the forearms and all these other very physical penalties. And I was just like, Okay, well, just like totally coincidentally, I’ve been kind of tracking it in the back of my head for a little while, and I’ve been averaging less than one penalty per game over the last six months game slash scrimmage, and Y’all have seen this. So when you say work on my control, what do you mean? Some people says just like, Oh, you know, just kind of stick with it and you’ll get just kind of given me this sadness. I know something is, this does not feel right. But I just like I felt like I was being kind of like enduring an uncoordinated symphony of gaslighting, like nobody super intended to do it, but that they were all kinda, it’s just like, yeah, you know, it’s like they were seeing what they wanted to see. They were kind of, you know, working on their presumptions of what a very tall, early transition transsexual looked like. And, like my immediate reaction, you know, I mean, I did cried a lot that night, but I was just like, Okay, well, then I’m going to get so good at this, that there’s no way that they can turn me down for the travel team tryouts. And I hustled I was, you know, skating all the time, I was working hard. I was trying to train off skates. I went to the travel team tryouts and didn’t make it again, And I was just like, Okay, this is silly. This is, this is ridiculous. I had other friends on the league. Who says just like, why aren’t you on? This is like, beats me. I had the league across town. I heard that there were a few people there who were saying it’s just like, Oh, you know, tell her to come over here. If she’s not, you know, if they’re not treating her that well we’ll roster No problem, you know, that’ll be great. I was just like, Huh, okay, well, I was just like, still kind of, I just kind of, didn’t know what I was gonna do at that point, I ended up trying out for their c team made that on how to, like, lovely season with them. I found out later that I’m like, years after that. At the time, there were teams who were discussing whether or not they should, you know, pick me at the draft. And there were people who thought that I would be just a toxic addition to the team that you know, I would just be just be a team cancer people who said that I was less female because I was so tall or because I had played men’s Derby. All these things that just like were just really wretched. There were other trans people on the team who people were kind of telling me things about her to, to make me think that she was kind of a mess. And then at the same time, they were telling her things about me. So we kind of were pitted against each other. Again, I don’t think this was intentional, I think it was just like, all sorts of people’s, you know, internal implicit biases, just kind of crossing against each other and being weaponized against each other and just messing with us. But I played out the rest of the season on the C team. And I kind of decided, this isn’t gonna work. This, they’re never gonna let me get ahead here. I knew there was a team across town that was, you know, seemed like they were on the rise. And they had expressed interest in me. I was like, yeah, you know, I could go transfer over there. That makes sense. So I kind of did that real quietly, I just went, transferred over to that team. I was just like, Okay, this is gonna be great. I joined that team. And immediately I was just like, yeah, you know, kind of miss it. And everybody’s, like, real supportive of me, I made a lot more friends. I was immediately on the coaching Committee, which you know, was kind of responsible for training so I could like, help people out, it was just like, it was real great. And then, shortly after my first like, inner league scrimmage, someone who was like the head of coaching, like asked if they could meet with me, and then I was just Oh, yeah, sure. I thought I was just some coaching committee business, but there was also a few people from the league Board of Directors just there and they were just talking about how they had received some complaints about the way I was playing. And I was like, Well, I’m not like getting any more penalties than anyone else. You know, I’m, I’m doing okay. But like there was they said they, I believe the the phrase I heard at one point was we don’t want to tell you to rein it in, but, and which meant they wanted to tell me to rein it in. Funny how that is.

Callie 24:42
And this in a sport that’s like literally about like being aggressive within.

Gloom 24:45

Callie 24:46
A set of boundaries.

Gloom 24:47
A contact sport. Um, yeah. That’s, I was just like, so what do I do? How do I how do I do this? And I tried, but I was still playing. And a couple of weeks later, they sat me down for another meeting and they said, hey, we’ve received more complaints. They kind of like, pulled out just like a stack of them that they had printed out, which is real, like mostly redacted. Some of them weren’t for some reason. So I got to see exactly the people who did not like me. But people who are just scared of me, or people who are afraid and I was just like, but I’m really nice. Like, there were there were other people who like I noticed who’s like seem very skittish, and I kind of tried to befriend them newer skaters, people who, you know, I had said, you know, is just like, Okay, well, I’m kind of intimidated about skating against you, but you know, let’s try some stuff out. And then they got over it. And I was just like, yeah, you know, you get used to me if there are people, you know, I will work with them, let me know what I need to do. But they told me they were suspending me for a month. They gave me handed me a complaint that had things like said I was being reckless that I was being a bully, which was very strange. It’s funny, I told my therapist that and she’s just like, outraged because I am, I want everyone to like me so much. After they gave me this news, and after they handed me this, you know, suspension letter that was still like, in the middle of practice, and I wasn’t allowed to participate in it. So I went in the corner and cried for an hour and a half. It was again, you know, I was just like, Oh, yeah, being rejected by women saying this is you know, you fool me once Shame on you fool me twice Jesse. I just was miserable. But I, you know, the ad said, You know what, I’m going to be a good, I’m going to be a good team member. I’m going to be a good league member in this time in between. I am going to, you know, use my role as a as the member of the coaching committee, I’m going to keep on teaching these newest skaters, I’m going to, you know, to keep on teaching skating skills, coming to scrimmages just to like, even though the scrimmages were at the same time as the practices with the bruise brothers, I would still, you know, show up to those practices, and you know, kind of explains the newer skaters, what was going on, tried to help level them up, things like that very tried to be encouraging to people who weren’t believing in themselves, you know, just kind of really tried to make myself an institution. At the same time, I had sent an email over to the board of directors of the league saying, Hey, I– tell me what you need me to do. Because I do not think I was being a bully. I have just been doing the best I can with the information I have. And if there is something you need me to do, I will do it. Just tell me what it is. Because as far as I knew, I was doing fine. I got an acknowledgment that was received nothing immediate there. You know, I went to this next meeting and said, it’s just like, yeah, we’re removing you from the league as a skating member. And I’m like, Why? It’s just like, you didn’t really give me a chance here. I kind of like really pushed on that the person who I was talking to was very receptive to what I was saying says, Oh, yeah, I’ll bring it back to the board. I’ll see what they say, you know, I gave them a lot of good points. And he’s like, Yeah, that’s a great point. I’ll go talk with them. And then two weeks later, they came back. I was like, yeah, we still, you know, we’re still removing you. And that was kind of the end for me as a skater in competitive Chicago, women’s Derby. I just thought it’s just like, well, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Now. I guess I’ll just go back and play men’s then I don’t know what else to do. And so I went and rejoined the bruise brothers. And a week later, I went with them to a game in Detroit and I broke my ankle,

Callie 29:18
and there’s not even a super cool gnarly injury story to go with this one. She was just skating at the back of a pack of skaters and took an awkward fall.

Gloom 29:26
So the morning after that I was sitting there. In this makeshift cast. It was a cast that went all the way up to my thighs. So I couldn’t bend my leg, which meant my wife had to drive us home and I had to like lie in the backseat. I’m very tall and so it’s very uncomfortable. I’m just kind of sitting there and I am just miserable. Just like– What am I gonna do? I started writing a grievance to the to the WFTDA complaining about what had gone on saying I was just like, I don’t I feel like I was treated fairly here. Um, I kind of says just like, yeah, there’s I didn’t feel like they were gonna give me anything, but I at least wanted an apology or something, you know, I wanted to be that to be recognized. They suggested mediation. And when I came to them with that, and we tried to set it up, and then I went, and I like, I got referred to a lawyer who specialized in LGBTQ issues, and I talked to them about mediation, and that league eventually, you know, kind of, rather than just removing me as a skating member, like remove me entirely, because I like threatened legal action by talking to a lawyer to be a mediator, quote, unquote, threatened legal action, whatever. Over that summer, I got a message from someone else in the trans Derby community, who told me that they were going through something similar that they were suspended from their league, and they were told they needed to work on their control. And I was just like, oh, man, you can shit on me all you want, but when you shit on another trans person, that’s when I start to stand up and get angry, you know, because I have low self esteem. So I went on this, like Facebook rant, I was just like, real pissed off about it. I was just like, this is, you know, 2016, middle of the year, and I couldn’t walk and I was just like, Look, you know, you’re gonna see all sorts of articles about, you know, these star trans players and say, you know, how, how it’s great for trans women in the sport. It’s not, it’s not great for trans people. It still sucks. You know, the only people who you see the ones you see succeeding, those are the ones who didn’t have any problems for every one that has no problems. There are a bunch who are having a lot of problems and you don’t hear their stories because they get shuffled off at the lowest levels. I went on this rant, it went like mini Derby viral it got like shared around a little bit. And the next day, an article came out from There ESPN W like interviewing trans women and trans. I think it was just trans women on Derby teams about HB2 in North Carolina, about you know, how that affects them as athletes,

Callie 32:24
A prominent player from another league had commented on this article, also to point out that things actually weren’t often great for trans women in the sport. And this player referred back to some of the things Gloom had said in her mini Facebook rant

Gloom 32:37
That got around a little bit too, there was some discussion about it. I talked to somebody from Derby Central, which at the time was the main website writing about Derby, and things like that, as you know, we talked about me writing something I got to talk to who was then the executive director of the WFTDA, who want to just hear about what was going on with me. And we chatted for a little while I end up writing a piece about my experiences two pieces, actually about my experiences as a trans woman and roller derby. called sidelined how trans women are pushed out a roller derby. And it was just kind of my explanation of the way these things manifest. I think at the time, it was the most shared article on Derby central that they’d had across Facebook, which was pretty cool. But I was just like, had become somebody who had kind of parlayed this horrible experience into something I started yelling about a lot. And as I was yelling, people were starting to listen and acknowledge that this is true. And the executive director of the WFTDA came back to me with a call and asked me, you know, hey, we’re starting this new diversity inclusion committee. Would you like to be on it? You know, would you like to apply as like to fill out an application? Sure. Even though I was not affiliated with the WFTDA league at the time, I was just like, Yeah, why not? This is something I have. I want to make sure that what happened to me doesn’t happen to anyone else, because what I went through was horrible.

Callie 34:22
And of course, Gloom was skittish about joining another WFTDA league because of her experiences. Eventually, she did find a WFTDA team to skate with outside of Chicago, since she was affiliated with a WFTDA league now, that allowed her to become the chair of the diversity inclusion Committee for the WFTDA.

Gloom 34:42
They gave me a chance to attend the roller derby World Summit in Manchester in the United Kingdom in 2017. So, in less than a year, I had gone from getting kicked out of a roller derby league to what was You know, for trans reasons, effectively, they won’t admit it, they will say it has nothing to do with me being trans is all about who I am as a person. But that’s what everybody always says whenever they have to kick out a trans person from the roller derby league. And so I got to go overseas for the first time in my life to go talk about, you know, what had happened to me and ways that we can better serve our marginalized communities in our sport. And for the next couple of years, like I was the chairperson of that committee. We got to do a lot of great work on a lot of different fronts, but I’ve had people tell me, it’s just like, hey, yeah, this is the sport in 2019 is very different than it was in 2017. Just for in terms of, you know, being accepted as a trans person. I mean, there’s always work to do. But I really got a chance to try to make things better for people who had traditionally not been very well served by the sport. So I did that for about two, two and a half years, something like that. During that time, my, my men’s team started to get very good, and very, like, not even a little toxic, like very supportive and pleasant. And, you know, there’s a kind of a stereotype of men’s Derby as being very, you know, just toxic and awful. But my team, we’ve put in a lot of work to make sure that we are not that. So my team started getting very good. We started winning games, we started succeeding, I started realizing that I didn’t just want to play women’s roller derby, I wanted to play roller derby, in a poetic inversion of what had happened a few years prior. By the summer, right before my team, like an hour before my team was supposed to play the number one men’s team in the world, and I was just like, this is gonna be bad, I found out that I had been elected to the WFTDA board of directors. So I think I might be one of the first people, if not the first to go from getting booted from a couple of leagues to being on the board of directors of the governing body of the biggest entity in the sport.

Callie 37:22
Man talk about a comeback, right? It’s pretty remarkable. But as we know, of course, you can’t really undo that kind of damage, at least not all the way.

Gloom 37:32
You know, I got diagnosed with a unspecified trauma related disorder due to what I had had to go through with the two local leagues. And while you know, I mean, I had a wonderful experience at Fort Wayne. Well, I got an email a couple of years ago from someone on the board of directors of the Windy City Rollers and asked me like, hey, what was your experience, like? And I was like, Oh, well, and I just wrote them a couple of pages. And they like, Oh, my God, I’m so sorry, we have so much work to do. And since then, they’ve done a lot of work. They’ve made it a much better place for trans people inside that league. You know, I mean, even though all that happens, there are still times where you know, I will hit somebody, I will think it’s just like, oh god is that the hit that I just laid on somebody that is going to get me kicked out of this league. There have been times where I just, you know, have to sit down and cry for half an hour an hour after practice, because I’m just so overwhelmed with past trauma,

Callie 38:31
But she keeps going, because that’s what she does. The sport is better for the work she put in. In my short time in Derby. I’ve not experienced anything like Gloom did. I’ve played in lots of different cities against all kinds of different teams. And it’s just not been a thing. Obviously, no space is ever going to be perfect, of course. But regardless of that, it is easier for trans and non binary skaters to exist in the sport than it was a few years ago. And I am so, so grateful.

Gloom 39:02
I fought roller derby roller derby tried to kill me. Some people say roller derby saved by soul. Roller Derby, tried to destroy me and I fought it and I won.

Callie 39:12
Gloom. Thank you so much for sharing your story. And thank you for the work you’ve done to make this sport I love a safer place for me to exist in. And if you want to support the show, help me keep telling these stories, please consider heading to and making a per episode donation to support the show. I couldn’t do it without the wonderful folks who give there and I am so grateful. Before I go, I want you to know that if you’re lost, you’re hurting. You’re scared. If you feel like no one cares and no one understands. You need to know there’s a community out here that loves you. cares for you knows that you’re capable of amazing things and that you are worthy of love. If you’re struggling, please don’t be afraid to reach out. Until next time friend. My name is Callie Wright and this is Queersplaining.