Trans woman wants to make history with solo sail around the world

transgender woman sailor sabreena lachlainn
Photo: Sabreena Lachlainn

Courageous sailor Sabreena Lachlainn wants to inspire her community by becoming the first transgender woman to sail solo around the world.

She says she hopes to join the ranks of female sailing legends such as Australia’s own Kay Cottee and Jessica Watson with the incredible voyage.

“Sailing solo non-stop around the world is probably the single most difficult task to achieve,” she said.

“But if I can do it, I want it to be a message to my community. Anything is possible if you have a dream and are willing to work hard to achieve it.

“It would be a very humbling experience and honor to join such sailing legends – my heroes – in the record books.”

Sabreena said fewer than 100 people have completed a solo sail around the world. If her trip goes ahead next year, she will depart from Sydney.

The American woman is currently seeking sponsorship to make the voyage possible.

‘I had to transition to save my life’

Sabreena Lachlainn said she was just four years old when she realized she was born in the wrong body. She battled that confusion into her early thirties.

“I had no idea what I was dealing with, no understanding why I felt the way I did,” she said.

“But I remember arguing with my mom that I was a girl and her insisting I was a boy.”

Sabreena grew up in a rural town of just 400 people. Before the Internet, she said she had no name or understanding of what she was feeling.

She said battling her gender dysphoria for most of her life at the time left her suicidal.

It was in 2001 when she was 33 when her ex-wife Gloria encouraged her to transition after their divorce.

“After 13 years of marriage she sat me down, held my hands and looked me in the eyes,” she said.

“She told me she loved me and that she knew I had to transition to save my life.”

That was in 2001. After their split, Sabreena’s ex-wife supported her transgender journey.

Sadly, her family didn’t. They broke off contact with her until 2015.

“I did not come out to my family until New Year’s Eve 2002 and it went very badly,” she said.

“I was forced to go into hiding, I received death threats. It was a nightmare I would not wish upon another living soul.”

In the mid-2000s, Sabreena went on to battle transphobia when she became the first openly transgender woman to play in a nationally-sanctioned Women’s Pro Football League team in the US.

She said players and coaches from opposing teams viciously targeted her and ultimately forced her out of the sport after nine seasons.

Sabreena Lachlainn inspired by Australia’s Jessica Watson

However, after the end of her football career came the rebirth of her childhood dream of sailing around the world.

She revisited the goal in 2010 after 16-year-old Australian Jessica Watson became the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

“It was at that moment that I began to map out my own plan to do just the same,” she said.

Sabreena is now seeking out generous sponsors who are willing to get behind her and support the voyage.

“In order to achieve my dream sponsors are absolutely critical to my success or failure,” she said.

“The costs associated with this endeavour are prohibitively expensive. They’re sometimes beyond the reach of even the best sailors in the world.”

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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