Transgender derby player: '100 years ago, I’d have been locked up'

Transgender derby player: '100 years ago, I’d have been locked up' »Play Video
AJ Spencer (center)

EUGENE, Ore. - AJ “PacN’Man” Spencer said the idea of a woman who wanted to be a man joining the all men’s roller derby team in Lane County didn’t sit well with everyone on the bench at first.
"It was awkward at first,” said Spencer. “I didn't have a binder yet, so I still had visible breasts.”
AJ Spencer, a student at Lane Community College, is the first transgender member of the men’s roller derby team the Lane County Concussion.
His derby name is PacN'Man.
"Packing is a term used for wearing a prosthetic penis,” said Spencer. “And so, it's not quite as loud as, 'I am mighty tranny, hear me roar,' but just a little something.”
When Spencer asked to join the team this past summer, he hadn’t started hormone therapy to become a man yet.
"Just 100 years ago, I’d have been locked up,” he said.
"But I'm lucky enough to live in a time and an environment where it's alright for me to approach a sports team and say, 'Hey, I'm transgender, I'd like to play, I'm not on hormones yet, and I don't know when I'll be but come let me play,'” said Spencer at Lane County Concussion’s season opener against The Portland Honey Badgers in March. “And they did."
Now about six months into hormone therapy, Spencer said some of the team member’s initial reservations have worn off alongside his physical transformation.
“They’re raising me to be the man I’m going be,” said Spencer.
"So far, I'm getting facial hair — just a little bit — enough that I can feel while I shave,” he said. "I've had time to bulk up a bit, work the muscles, learn the skills.”
Lane County Concussion lost to the Honey Badgers by a landslide, but Spencer said his first competitive bout was a personal win.  
“It feels good,” said Spencer. “This was the first bout where I stepped up as a jammer and filled that role.”
When KVAL News asked Spencer if he thought he was an inspirational sports figure, he said, “I want to be the kind of person that some chubby little computer nerd like I was can look up to and say, wow, that's an option, that's possible."
Lane County Concussion will face two out of state teams Saturday at The Big O Tournament at the Lane Events Center.

Their first bout is at 12:15 against Capital City from Boise, Idaho. Tickets at the door are $15.