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ESPN Cover Story Spotlights Layshia Clarendon, The WNBA’s Most Influential Player

Reporter Katie Barnes talks about profiling the Lynx star who is the WNBA's first openly nonbinary and transgender athlete

EDITOR’S NOTE: Layshia Clarendon (she/he/they), who identifies as transgender and nonbinary, uses he/him, she/her, and they/them pronouns interchangeably. We do so throughout this piece. We also introduce the preferred pronouns for others who appear in this story and for whom pronouns are used.

The latest multi-platform ESPN Cover Story featuring Minnesota Lynx guard Layshia Clarendon (she/he/they) debuted today on ESPN.com.

Layshia Claredon (The Tyler Twins for ESPN)

ESPN.com reporter Katie Barnes (they/them/their) spoke with Clarendon about the struggles of coming to terms with who they are, his faith, and using her voice to advocate for the voiceless.

Clarendon (she/he/they) is the first openly nonbinary player in the WNBA. Did you feel any additional pressure to tell their story?
It would be hard not to feel that pressure! As a Black, queer, nonbinary person myself, I’ve never written about a person who sits at such a similar intersection. For that reason, I desperately wanted to do the story justice. I’m motivated that way for every story I do, but I felt it acutely with Layshia.

Was there anything you can share that didn’t make it into the story?
So many things! I was really lucky to have a wealth of material. I think the biggest things were actually some of the basketball-driven interviews. I interviewed two of Layshia’s first professional coaches, Lin Dunn and Stephanie White, who gave great perspectives. Originally, I thought the piece would have more basketball in it, but it ended up developing in a different direction, so a lot of that material didn’t make it into the story.

You spent time with him for the cover shoot. Are you normally present at photoshoots for these stories? What was that like?
Well, I’ve only done two cover stories [Barnes profiled Azzi Fudd in February] and was present at both photoshoots, so yes? It was a really great day! There was so much joy from Layshia in participating in this process, and that made me emotional, to be honest. So much of the narrative surrounding trans people is rooted in pain and sorrow, so to witness those joyful moments was really special to me, especially knowing the piece would publish during Pride Month.

For more on this story, visit ESPN PressRoom.

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