My name is Lila (they/them pronouns), and I am a white, queer, nonbinary trans person.
I am an educator, rock climber, trail runner, and a trans equity advocate, and I’m passionate about increasing queer representation and equity in the outdoors and the world.
Photo by Irene Yee. Photo taken on Ute + Cheyenne Territory.
Playing outside has always been a touchstone for me.
I spent an idyllic country childhood catching bugs, splashing in creeks, and visiting state parks. Though I secretly resented those state park visits (stop looking at BIRDS and PLANTS, mom and dad!), when I moved to Utah in 2014, I started to cultivate my own relationship to the outdoors. Trained as a botanist, I learned the plants. I hiked the peaks, I climbed in the canyons, and I rambled across the wide open spaces of the intermountain west. The outdoors has been a balm through challenging relationships, career moves, and discovering my trans identity.
But coming out as trans means it’s hard to see myself in the outdoor community.
There is a lack of queer visibility in outdoor media and advertising, a lack of queer community spaces on local and national levels, and a lack of mentors who share or understand queer identities. As a white queer person from a middle-class family, I’ve only encountered this recently. For people of color, people with less financial privilege, adaptive athletes, or people who share any combination of these identities, these challenges persist over lifetimes.
I want a more inclusive outdoor community—so that we can remove the barriers to accessing this touchstone.
I want an outdoor community that celebrates my gender, and my friends’ genders. I want one that heals the harm done to the indigenous people who have stewarded the land for generations. I want one that uplifts the black and brown and indigenous and fat and adaptive and queer people who are working every day to help make outdoor spaces somewhere that they can not just exist, but thrive. My story is just one of many— but I’m excited to keep going, keep playing, keep working, keep fighting.