Liberty guard Layshia Clarendon, who identifies as transgender and nonbinary, announced on social media Friday that they had surgery to remove breast tissue.
"It’s hard to put into words the feeling of seeing my chest for the first time free of breasts, seeing my chest the way I’ve always seen it, and feeling a sense of gender euphoria as opposed to gender dysphoria," Clarendon wrote on Instagram, along with a photo taken after the surgery. "Sighhhh...freedom... freedom at last."
Clarendon has been generally open about their identity but felt trepidation in sharing news of the operation due to "the amount of hate, myths & ignorance." Clarendon decided to share the photo because "I want Trans people to know and see that we’ve always existed & no one can erase us!"
The league, the players’ union and the Liberty released statements offering support to Clarendon.
"Layshia’s story is one of inspiration and courage, and as a takeaway from the emotional conversation we shared recently, my hope is that the WNBA’s full support will extend far beyond this league," WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. "We are so proud that Layshia is part of the WNBA and we know that their voice and continued advocacy will not only support and help honor and uplift many other nonbinary and trans people, but also encourage empathy and understanding for the community across all levels of sport."
The eight-year veteran of the WNBA averaged a career-best 11.5 points for the Liberty last season.
Clarendon wrote in The Players’ Tribune five years ago they identify as "black, gay, female, non-cisgender and Christian," and expanded on their identity in an Instagram post in December.
"Existing outside of the binary for me is freedom," Clarendon wrote. "I’ve learned that my gender just doesn’t fit into these molds that keep trying to hold it down and box it in. I know that my gender will keep evolving because we change and grow and shape shift and expand. I know that as (nonbinary poet) Andrea Gibson says, my pronouns haven’t even been invented yet. I know that we all have masculinity and femininity inside of us and mine show up equally and wholly and fully.?"
Clarendon and wife Jessica had their first child together in December.