On a blustery weekday afternoon in June 2019, I found myself sharing a beer with a friend in the backyard of RIPCORD, a gay bar in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston. It was my first time here. But it was hardly the bar as it would be on a Saturday night. Other than a few people smoking at nearby tables, lazily talking about the weather, the backyard was empty – though that didn’t calm my nerves. I felt both out of place and wanting to be there, though I never would have been alone. The friend had insisted on getting me out, and I was grateful for his insistence. He was teaching me a lesson on the importance of building community – a lesson particularly relevant to today’s debates about trans children and sports.
I had lived in Montrose for three years. In 2016, I moved to an apartment on the ground floor in the neighborhood and started my PhD at the University of Houston. When I arrived in Houston, I hadn’t yet come out as non-binary, although I knew in my heart that I was trans. Most people thought I was cisgender, that is, my gender matched what I was assigned at birth, and, not ready to go out yet, I never got it wrong. this presumption. I often went to queer bars, wishing I had the courage to enter.