Alex Hai became Venice’s first female gondolier in 2007. Now she has made news again, after declaring that she is transgender. He wrote about this in a Facebook post, saying that it is “inaccurate to refer to me as ‘she’ or ‘Alexandra’ for any reason.

He was upset that the media coverage about him refers to him as a female gondolier. He says that this is inaccurate. He says that while he is supportive of equal rights for women, and while he has rowed in the body of a woman, he is not a woman.

“However, I myself am not a woman, and the struggle of feminism is not my personal struggle. I simply want to do the work I’m passionate about, and be seen by the people around me the way I see myself,” he posted on Facebook.

He began studying to be a gondolier as an apprentice in 1996. However, a lawsuit filed against him by the Venetian City Hall prevented him from working as a gondolier. He won that lawsuit in 2007. Venice had not employed a female gondolier for 900 years. 

Alex says that he wants to live openly as the man that he has known himself to be since childhood. Kudos to the rower who first fought a 20-year battle in order to do what he loves, and who then fought another battle against gender stereotypes and norms. In the Facebook post, Alex also urges journalists to report correctly on transgender people.

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Picture Credit: Time