As a non-binary trans person, venturing out into daily life can be a struggle. Often you can’t even think about backpacking in the wild, surrounded by strangers, and presenting as your gender identity. Fortunately that is the exact opposite experience I had with The Venture Out Project when I went on a 6 day backpacking trip on a section of The Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail. In what I will call “outdoor adventure” spaces that are not exclusively queer, I have often been misgendered and not really felt safe presenting as a non-binary person. At TVOP, we always start outings by asking each others pronouns and everyone in the group is respectful of everyone else’s identities. This basic respect and understanding from other queers were necessary for me to have a comfortable and positive experience. I didn’t have to try to present or act in any certain way. I was just accepted and seen in the way I want to be seen.
The trip was completely transformative for me. For the first time in a long time I was appreciating my body for what it could do. This body hiked 40 miles. This was an experience I needed with my body. It was truly unifying. I had time for self-reflection that I usually don’t get in my hectic life. I shared stories and had conversations with other queer and trans folks about politics, transition, our childhoods, hiking, and our favorite foods to cook. I learned about survival in the wilderness and in the world as a trans person. We truly created a community and were supportive of each other through the tougher times on the trip. I laughed, I cried,I played games, and I drank tuna mayo water. I am so thankful for the chance to have gone on this trip through TVOP's sliding scale philosophy. I gained so much and I really believe that without the community of Venture Out it would have been impossible for me to have this experience.