Writer Sam McGuire presents an eye-opening profile of skateboarder Hillary Thompson for Jenkem Magazine that captures the ever-changing obstacles that those in the LGBT face in the world of sports. Noting the struggle of being true to herself, the editorial spans many of the universal human emotions that sports offers and notes “many times, when people transition they feel the need to shed previous gender habits. Some people do it for survival and some out of societal pressures but Hillary’s desire to skate helped her ignore all of this and she picked up her board again.” While a choice excerpt appears below, head over to Jenkem Magazine to read the enthralling editorial in its entirety.
It was pouring when I pulled up to the strip mall to meet Hillary for lunch. We had talked for about year on Facebook. A few messages back and forth about things and a handful of, “shoulds,” until one day I put a date out there. She obliged and well, there we were. Meeting.
Hillary was born September 10th in Raleigh, NC, the middle child of 3. Raleigh if you haven’t been, is a mid-sized liberal city located in a southern conservative state. It was there where two life-changing things happened when she was around 4 or 5 years old.
First, she started skating. Her first board was a single kicktail with big plastic wheels and it was love at first sight. The cool kids at the end of the block were doing it, only they had wide boards, 80’s style and they could do ollie’s and kickflips. Naturally, she wanted to be cool too. “They were like, 13-14, which was old compared to me so they would go off and do cool teen stuff and I would kinda just skate around the block. But I wanted to be like them,” Hillary says, describing her eagerness to skate. Her younger brother started to skate with her shortly after.
The second big event happened around the same time and this is where society’s imposed ideas of sex, gender and sexuality started to cause some issues for Hillary. Although society defines gender by one’s anatomy at birth, some people physically born boys or girls, don’t always feel like them. “I was naive then and I just assumed, well, yeah, of course I’m just gonna grow up and be a woman, that’s how it works. That’s who I am.”