It was a rainy and cold Friday evening in Juneau — that wet cold that gets in your bones — but people still showed up to the community’s first-ever women and trans skateboarding session.
At the Pipeline in the Mendenhall Valley, music played through a portable speaker, echoing off the graffitied walls. Skateboarders and a few roller skaters glided down ramps and the halfpipe.
Around 20 women, trans and nonbinary-identifying people gathered at the Pipeline to skateboard. There were young kids there with the Zach Gordon Youth Center, young adults in their twenties — people who use she/her and they/them pronouns.
Sarah Leggitt works for Skate Like A Girl, the nonprofit that sponsored the event. She was very happy with how many people showed up.
“Yeah I’m stoked, this is, like, not at all what I was expecting. Like the parking lot is full, and it’s kind of shocking,” Leggitt said.
Skate Like A Girl aims to create an inclusive community through skateboarding. Normally, they only serve Seattle, Portland and the San Francisco Bay Area. But when the pandemic broke out, the nonprofit switched to virtual programming and let Leggitt work outside those communities.
When outdoor activities became safer, Skate Like A Girl started hosting in-person events again. And since she was in Juneau when this change happened, Leggitt was able to bring the program to town.
Leggitt thinks it is important to have women, trans and queer visibility in the skateboarding community.
“Through Instagram, I started following Skate Like A Girl, Unity Skateboards, all these skater Instagrams, and just got really stoked on it. Finally seeing people that look like me,” Leggitt said. “And I just went to a couple events and was like ‘Yeah, this is where I want to be.’ These are, this is, like, where I feel the most comfortable in my body.”
People of all genders and abilities came to Leggitt’s event, including young kids who were learning skateboarding for the first time.
This was not the normal crowd Leggitt usually finds at the Pipeline when she comes to skateboard.
“When I come to the park, it’s, like, teenage boys and maybe some dads. But I rarely find a femme-looking person,” Leggitt said.
For Leggitt, skateboarding is more about the community than the skateboarding itself. And seeing people identify similarly to her in that community is important.
“Like, you go to the skate park alone as a woman or trans or nonbinary/gender-nonconforming person, and you just feel so isolated,” Leggitt said. “And so I think it’s really nice to have a sense of community, whether you’ve been skating for 15 years or three years or today is your first day.”
Leggitt hopes to host future women and trans skate events once a month. And if the weather is nice, she might even have events outside.
To see when the next event is announced, you can follow @wtsk8juneau on Instagram.