Aug 2, 2021 - Technology

Nonbinary trans WNBA player to keynote women's tech conference

Layshia Clarendon, seen here playing for the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx.

Layshia Clarendon. Photo: David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Anitab.org, the group behind the annual Grace Hopper conference, is announcing Monday that among its keynote speakers will be Layshia Clarendon, an out transgender and nonbinary basketball player for the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx.

Why it matters: Organizers say it's part of a broader effort by the conference to be both inclusive and intersectional, recognizing that the challenges faced by women in tech are tied to those that other underrepresented groups encounter.

Clarendon will speak at this year's Grace Hopper Celebration, an all-online event taking place Sept. 27 to Oct. 1.

What they're saying: In an interview with Axios, Clarendon acknowledged that they are an unlikely choice to keynote a tech conference, joking they can barely work their iPhone. (Clarendon uses he, she and they pronouns interchangeably.) But Clarendon said they do have some thoughts on how the tech industry could better serve society.

In particular, Clarendon says they would like to see the tech industry do a better job protecting people in underrepresented groups from online harassment.

They note that society is encouraging people to be their authentic selves but then not changing the way online systems work, leaving already vulnerable groups to fend for themselves. Clarendon has basically stopped checking their online mentions on Twitter and other platforms, they say.

"It became so gross and hard," Clarendon said in an interview.

Meanwhile: Clarendon was among the athletes who spoke to Axios about how this year's Tokyo Olympics represent a milestone for transgender and nonbinary representation in sports.

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