Tia Thompson, a 32-year-old transgender woman, has been playing in the men's division of USA Volleyball (USAV), but in January, the organization finally approved her request to play in the women's division.
"It took me three years to finally get approved with all the transitioning and hormone therapy and submitting all my paperwork to the Gender Committee," Thompson told NBC affiliate KHNL.
USAV requires transgender women to undergo hormone replacement therapy consistently for at least one year and to change their gender marker to female on their identification documents.
Later this month, Thompson will compete in the popular Haili Volleyball Tournament on Hawaii's Big Island, a USAV-sanctioned event. This will be her first time playing in the tournament as a woman, and the first time the tournament will have an openly transgender athlete competing.
There has been some pushback from the community, according to KHNL, which reported some parents and athletes anonymously told the station that inclusion of Thompson would result in an unfair level of competition for non-transgender women.
Despite this resistance, Thompson is determined to compete in the USAV's women's division and has her sights set on the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“By me coming out and opening the doors, it will get more accepted,” Thompson said.