Bryson Cavanaugh: “I Am Still the Same Person With the Same Heart and Attitude”


Bryson Cavanaugh (above) has cemented his legacy as one of the most successful athletes Fordham has seen in recent history. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

The “Bre Cavanaugh” era officially ended when Cavanaugh decided to come out publicly as a transgender man through an Instagram post earlier this month. Now, you can refer to him as Bryson Cavanaugh moving forward. In this week’s Beyond the Scoreboard column, the former Fordham Women’s Basketball star and reigning Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year took some time to elaborate further on his life-altering decision.

Why did you feel that now was the right time to publicly and officially come out as a transgender man?

Well, I always knew I was going to come out to people eventually. It was only a matter of time before I did. I felt like now was the right time because I wanted to start living my life … I knew that once I started transitioning and taking testosterone, I wasn’t going to be able to play basketball anymore and I was 100% okay with that. There really isn’t a right or wrong time. It was a matter of comfortability to tell people.

How important were your family and friends in helping give you the confidence and comfortability to make this life-changing decision?

Well, no one gave me confidence. My confidence came from within over time. However, when I came out I did get a lot of support from my teammates, family and friends, especially my girlfriend. My girlfriend was the first person I told. 

In your Instagram post, you mentioned gender dysphoria playing a part in hiding how you truly felt. To those unfamiliar with the term, what do you want them to know about gender dysphoria and how it affects people in our society?

Well, as I stated in my Instagram post, I did have gender dysphoria throughout my life. I remember when I was younger, I always wanted to be identified as a boy. I remember always saying I was a boy and would always be upset about it. I always knew throughout my years of playing basketball and living that I wanted to identify as a male. I would be so happy when people always called me “he.” 

Never once was I upset by it. I knew I couldn’t come out as early as I wanted to because I was really good at basketball as a “female.” So, I figured I would do what I had to do until it was time for me to be myself finally. 

I want people to know that gender dysphoria is real, and a lot of people struggle with it. It’s having discomfort in the sex you were born with. Many people can be in distress, get depressed and can experience a lot of anxiety, like myself. I know it is very hard for people to come out, whether it’s because of family and friends or not having the support in general. I just want everyone to know that it is okay to be who you are because, at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the love that you have for yourself. You don’t need to seek anyone else’s approval but yours.

Did you give any thought at all to postponing your decision in favor of playing out your senior year this upcoming season?

[Laughs] I did give it thought, and I did know that I was going to return as one of the top players; however, I felt that my happiness and who I am was more important. I did a lot for Fordham and the team, and it’s time for me to start living for myself. None of the accolades really mean much to me besides the fact that I did accomplish many things that others have not accomplished as a basketball player at Fordham. 

It wasn’t really difficult for me to give up my final year of basketball because I knew what I wanted to do. I felt as if I accomplished what I needed to do as a basketball player and finished with a very great degree from the university.

How supportive was coach Gaitley and your teammates when you initially told them about your decision to come out?

Coach [Gaitley] was very supportive, and so were my teammates when I initially came out to them. When I think about my time with Fordham Women’s Basketball, I think of the A-10 championship we won as a group, the fun times and traveling with the team even though I was afraid to fly. I will think about the hard work and energy put into the seasons. Going into battle with my teammates on the court. 

Basketball at Fordham has taught me a lot, and I hope the connections I made there will still be there throughout my transition. I hope the hard work and legacy I left will always be recognized because at the end of the day, I am still the same person with the same heart and attitude.

Are you officially done with your hoop dreams now, or could we possibly see you play basketball on a professional level down the line if the opportunity presents itself?

I am officially done with basketball right now. I can see myself coaching on the side from my job, and I know I will still work out the kids I work out with, but as far as me playing, I am done with basketball. 

For anybody reading this article that may also be experiencing gender dysphoria and feel better off hiding how they feel as you did for quite some time, what would your message be to them?

My message to them would be not to hide it. You are in control of your happiness and comfortability. At the end of the day, it is hard, but the reward after coming out, whether it’s to yourself or other people, is rewarding within itself. Don’t worry about pleasing or being afraid of what others might think because at the end of the day comfortability with yourself is a win. I am always there to support and give some feedback to any and everybody who needs it.

What are you most excited about now that you are living your truth and becoming who you want the world to see/identify you as?

I am most excited for the changes to come throughout this chapter of my life and to be who I am finally. To those within the Fordham community: I appreciate everything and all the love I’ve received. Also, a special shoutout to the Fordham band for their relentless support, and to Maggie Grossman for always having my back as well as standing up for those in the LGBTQ+ community. I love you all and always know I am still here!

What does the future hold for Bryson Cavanaugh moving forward?

I think the future is very bright for myself … inspiring a lot of people and on the road to protecting citizens as a law enforcement officer.

When you think about the “Bre Cavanaugh” era, what will you take from that chapter of your life as you enter into this new chapter as Bryson Cavanaugh?

I will take a lot of things from that chapter. All the hard work and dedication. The hard times, the rough times, the happy times and stressful times. I will always remember the accomplishments. I’m so excited for my new chapter. It’s still going to be the same in terms of how I present myself, my attitude and my work ethic. I will always have the same personality.