April 26, 2022 

Layshia Clarendon Foundation seeks to redistribute wealth, healthcare to the trans community

'It should be accessible and abundant'

Layshia Clarendon never really wanted to start a foundation. Running one requires time, dedication, and passion, all of which are at a premium if you’re a professional athlete, sideline reporter, mother, and spouse. And imagine trying to run one when you’re all of the above.

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Clarendon, who uses he/him, she/her and they/them pronouns interchangeably, didn’t want to start a foundation, but something kept gnawing at them. He knew he wanted to drive change. Or rather, knew they needed to drive change. And so was born: the Layshia Clarendon Foundation.

Clarendon recently teamed up with Athletes for Impact—a group that “[understands] the critical role athletes play as catalysts for social change and transformation” and whose roster includes Sue Bird, Maya Moore, Megan Rapinoe, and Nneka Ogwumike—to develop their foundation. While each athlete focuses on improving their community in different ways, Clarendon—who identifies as gender non-binary—wished to focus on a cause that has touched her own life: trans rights.

“Essentially, I realize a lot of the tax codes in this country, like the way our capitalistic society is set up, is actually not to give resources or money — direct cash — to people who are poor and/or who need it,” Clarendon told The Next during Minnesota Lynx media day last Wednesday. “So, there’s a lot in the nonprofit world where you can give to a nonprofit and then they might offer a service to someone… I might have to sign up and go through an application process, but it’s actually really hard to just give poor people money. And poor people need money, of all things.

“Money doesn’t fix everything. But it was through some kind of personal experiences that I realized it was just a time for me and my family to start this foundation,” they continued. “So we could create a grant process for ourselves in order to just give trans people, particularly trans people of color, like we just want to give them direct cash assistance. And that’s for anything from people having top surgery or bottom surgery or, you know, acupuncture or need to see a therapist or any form of wellness.” 

Clarendon has adopted active leadership roles not only in the WNBA — she serves as the WNBPA First Vice President — but in the LGBTQ community, something that Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve has had a front-row seat to observe over the last 12 months.

“[Layshia’s passionate] for not just advocating but being a contributor to the solutions around transgender equality,” Reeve told The Next. “And that means not just athletes, that means access to healthcare, that historically is a system that works against that community. Layshia is very educated on the processes around that and the challenges and is very committed to ensuring that the money gets where it’s the most needed. I’ve been impressed with Layshia’s perseverance, persistence, and that sort of thing and educating themselves around how best to spend your time to make the biggest impact.”

Reeve — who describes Clarendon as passionate, vulnerable, and relatable — has been impressed with the leadership skills her point guard has displayed — both on and off the court—since joining Minnesota last summer. They have particularly related with fellow point guard and 2020 Rookie of the Year Crystal Dangerfield as she adjusts to her new role on the team.

While the foundation’s grant application has not yet opened, they are currently accepting donations that will later be distributed to those in need. 

“Gender affirming healthcare is lifesaving. It saved my life. It should be accessible and abundant. But it’s not,” they tweeted when announcing The Layshia Clarendon Foundation. “To my Trans and Non-Binary siblings. I love you and I see you, I will never stop fighting for you and for us and for our liberation.”

The Lynx open their preseason on Wednesday, April 27 in Washington against the Mystics. According to head coach Cheryl Reeve, Clarendon is expected to be a full participant after returning to practice at the beginning of training camp. They suffered a stress injury in their right fibula towards the end of last season.

Clarendon re-signed with the Lynx during the offseason and figures to be the team’s starting point guard this coming season. They appeared in 21 games for Minnesota last summer and averaged 10.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game. 

Written by Lucas Seehafer

Lucas Seehafer is a general reporter for The Next. He is also a physical therapist and professor at the undergraduate level. His work has previously appeared at Baseball Prospectus, Forbes, FanSided, and various other websites.

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