As the first openly transgender and non-binary basketball player in the WNBA, Layshia Clarendon is breaking a lot of barriers in both the sports and LGBTQ+ communities. On Friday, the New York Liberty guard, who came out as gender non-conforming in June, according to OutSports.com, announce their breast removal surgery on Instagram.

“On Jan 13th at 10 a.m. I hugged my wife in front of my surgery building, walked in and took a deep breath…,” Clarendon’s caption read accompanying a photo of them post-op in the surgery room. “The day was finally here. The day I got to have top surgery!!!!!!!”

It wasn’t long before Clarendon received full love and support from the New York Liberty, the WNBA players’ union and Cathy Engelbert, the WNBA commissioner, according to Them.

The New York Liberty released a statement via Twitter announcing their “full support” for Clarendon’s surgery and even deemed them as “a pioneering athlete” and “a proud embodiment of our belief that our strength lies in our truth and no one should live constrained by societal boundaries.”

Clarendon also made their announcement on Twitter while sharing photos.

“I’m usually not scared to share news publicly but the amount of hate, myths & ignorance actually had me debating sharing this joy. I had top surgery!” Clarendon wrote on Twitter. “I’m feeling free and euphoric in my body and want Trans people to know and see that we’ve always existed & no one can erase us!”

The WNBA players’ union retweeted Clarendon’s Twitter announcement and responded with a statement: “It is a story that will empower, and remind us that we will not be restrained by the many assumptions and stereotypes that seek to define us as girls or women.”

The day following their social media posts, the basketball star took to Twitter to thank friends, family and fans for their ongoing support of her during her journey. They admitted that their “deepest fear was that my peers in this league would reject me,” while much to their surprise, they “received the most authentic love and support.”

As a public figure and activist, the San Bernardino native has used their social media to openly share their thoughts on racial injustice and social inequality for Black and fellow trans non-gender conforming persons. In June, Clarendon wrote an essay for The Players Tribune highlighting their journey as being Black and queer in “a world that has a layered, palpable threat of violence.” The University of California Berkeley graduate is currently the vice president of the WNBPA and was named as a 2020 honoree by Queerty Pride50 as “remarkable” and  “makes us optimistic about the future of equality.”

For the transgender community, top surgery, also referred to as subcutaneous mastectomy or “masculinizing chest surgery,” is a surgical procedure used to removal the breast tissue. Top surgery is typically performed to assist in the physical transition for a transgender male during their journey from their sex assigned at birth, according to MayoClinic. While top surgery may seem like a common step for transgender males, as it would be “important to their sense of self,” many choose to not undergo the surgery because different beings identify with different choices that align with their identities.

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