By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com November 12 2013 7:00 PM ET
A high school baseball coach in rural Rhode Island came out as transgender in a profile for Outsports Tuesday.
Stephen Alexander, a basketball star as a teenager in northern Rhode Island, is now believed to be the first openly transgender high school coach in the U.S. He said sports helped him deal with his feelings growing up.
"Sports saved me," Alexander said. "In dealing with life, it was something where I could step outside of myself and be part of something greater, rather than the introspective you have to do in order to survive."
After school, Alexander headed to New York, where he said he was able to discover himself. But after a few years in the Big Apple, and intensive education and therapy for his family, he returned to Rhode Island to become a coach.
Alexander currently lives in Glocester, R.I., a small town of 10,000 people that his sister Heather Sherman says is not exactly a bastion of diversity.
"There haven't been many instances in this community where people had to accept diversity," she said.
Now he's coached teams through strong seasons in volleyball, basketball, soccer, baseball, and tennis among several schools.
"I'm accepted for who I am," Alexander said. "I don't have to pretend to be anybody else. Back in the day, I pretended to be somebody I wasn't. Jen wasn't who I saw myself as. So to come here, to have the freedom to do that, is awesome."
Watch SB Nation's documentary about Alexander's story: