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Climbers Like Me: Alex

Updated: May 10, 2021

Tell us about yourself - who are you and what do you love doing?

I’m Alex, I'm a trans man from Scotland, and I love anything outdoors! Climbing is my main passion

although I also enjoy hillwalking, camping, cycling, skiing, and going for freezing cold swims! I have a bachelors degree in geology, and have just graduated with a masters in marine science. I have no idea where my life is headed now!

Give us three words that you identify with most?

Nature, snacks, alive.

What brings you the most joy outdoors?

Spending time in amazing places with fantastic people, as well as forcing myself out of my

comfort zone and finding out what I can achieve.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

In the outdoors, either my recent first HVS lead at Limekilns or completing the Ben Lawers 7 in a

single day, starting at 5am to catch the sunrise! In life in general definitely coming out as trans,

and navigating day to day life in a world where you are not the ‘norm’.

If you could share a core value or abiding principle with others, what would it be?

Live in the present and don’t have any regrets. For years I felt like I was waiting for my life to

start- it was going to happen after I came out, or after hormones, or after surgery. I regret those

wasted years, however that regret motivates me to live my life now, taking opportunities as they

come and not putting off things until the time is ‘right’ (I’m still working on that last one- I

procrastinated writing this for weeks!). You never know what could happen to you tomorrow,

and I strongly believe that awareness of your own mortality is key to living a fulfilling and

gratifying life. Also just be decent to people along the way - it’s not that hard.

Tell us one small change we can make as individuals to help our community?

Be more accepting, open minded and tolerant. Climbing communities are often lauded as being

friendly and welcoming, however that is not the experience I had early on in my transition. It’s

interesting being trans and seeing the climbing community from different perspectives. Before

coming out (when I was perceived as a woman still), it felt like I had to prove myself in order to

be treated as an equal. Men were regularly shocked (and embarrassed) when I could climb better

than them! During transition I effectively gave up climbing for a couple of years as I found the

community so unwelcoming. Even just going to the wall was difficult as there were no toilet

facilities I felt safe in. Luckily I’ve since found other LGBTQ+ climbers and made some great

friends, and have been climbing regularly again.

Nowadays, I can turn up at any wall or crag and be instantly accepted as an equal. I know how privileged I am and that if I was anything other than a white, able bodied, cis passing man my experience would be very different. I still don’t feel particularly comfortable coming out as trans in the climbing community, however I think visibility is so important to progress. I personally know a lot of trans climbers, yet we rarely see our stories included in mainstream climbing narratives.

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milan smith
milan smith
29 dec. 2020

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