New York Liberty guard Layshia Clarendon has successfully completed gender-affirming top surgery, posts shared Friday on Clarendon’s Twitter and Instagram confirm. The surgery, performed earlier this month, is a vital part of Clarendon living in his non-binary gender: “I’m feeling free and euphoric in my body,” Clarendon said on Twitter post-surgery. “[I] want trans people to know and see that we’ve always existed and no one can erase us!”

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While Clarendon confided on Twitter that they were at first apprehensive of sharing this news, particularly fearing rejection from other WNBA players, Clarendon instead found “the most authentic love and support” from her community. “To see the outpour of love and support today from both my WNBA colleagues, and from trans people all over the spectrum, has been so, so heartening,” Clarendon shared on an Instagram live Friday night. And it was an exceptionally, unprecedently trans-positive response from figures across the WNBA community:

“Layshia is a proud embodiment of our belief that our strength lies in our truth and no one should live constrained by societal boundaries,” said the Liberty, in a statement supporting their veteran guard. The WNBPA, which Clarendon is a Vice-President of, echoed the sentiment that Layshia is an inspiration: “[Layshia] reminds us that what it is to be human is to be authentic, holistic, and inclusive,” a statement from the organization said. “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”.

In her response to Clarendon’s announcement, league commissioner Cathy Engelbert emphasized how particularly important Layshia’s openness about their transition is to others in the transgender and non-binary community. “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 so many other non-binary and trans people, but also encourage empathy and understanding for the community across all levels of sport.”

Engelbert could not be more correct: Layshia Clarendon’s announcement is a beacon of joy for the transgender community. In response to President Biden’s executive order protecting transgender individuals from identity-based discrimination, there has been a wave of anti-trans sentiment. A particular focus of this transphobic anger seems to be Biden’s assertion that transgender children should “be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”

As of the writing of this piece in February 2021, there are pieces of anti-trans legislature pending in 18 states. These bills include several that would officially bar transgender individuals from participating in sports at varying levels, from high school sports, to collegiate, even to professional in some cases per ACLU attorney Chase Strangio. Layshia Clarendon’s pride and openness in his identity is a definitive answer to the question ‘Do trans people belong in sports?’

“You’re really asking: Should I be in sports,” Clarendon explained on their Instagram, “And I am in sports. I’ve been here. And so I wanted to use my platform to show that: We do exist, we’ve been in sports, and we’re not going anywhere.”