Last year, Zwift showcased the progress flag for Pride Month. What does the progress flag mean to you?
The progress flag is a big deal because we can't move forward individually if we aren't moving forward as a community. It's important to note that trans and non-binary people as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer people are as diverse as anyone else. I was thrilled to see the Pride kit last year and have switched back to it a number of times this year.
What is the greatest challenge LGBTQIA+ athletes face today?
There are a lot of myths and misinformation about LGBTQIA+ and specifically transgender and non-binary athletes out there in the media right now. The greatest threats our community face in sports right now are the attacks on transgender youth, with lawmakers in over half the states in the country attempting to keep trans kids out of sports. Beyond that, the entire LGBTQ+ community faces the challenge of a feeling of a lack of representation, a lack of support and lack of community within sports, which is why visibility for me is so important. Creating a sense of community is critical to making LGBTQ+ athletes feel like they belong.
What is your favorite way to give back to your community?
My favorite way to give back to my community is by using my platform and my voice to advocate for others and to amplify the voices of others as best as I can. When I was coming out as a trans man and trying to find my place in sports, I didn't see athletes like me, and I encountered a lot of organizations and events that didn't know how best to include transgender athletes. It felt challenging to advocate for myself because we were talking about my deeply held, core sense of who I am. I had to explain myself a lot, and at times it felt embarrassing and shameful. I want to make sure no one else needs to feel that way by doing my best to raise awareness of the fact that trans people exist in sport, and that there is a place for us.
What’s an important lesson you’ve learned as an athlete?
The most important lesson I've learned through sports is that I can only control what I can control. That is, I can train the best I can, but I can't control the abilities of my competitors, or the weather, or the hills on a course, or any other factor outside of my small circle of control. So my job is to control what I can control, but to know that I don't need to stress about things I can't control; I just need to be flexible and adapt. This has helped me through my coming out process and my transition as well—I can't control what other people think about me or say or do. I can only control how I respond, and that's helped my confidence and sense of well-being over time.
What’s the song, artist, or band that gets you pumped up for a ride/run?
It changes frequently but right now, Cardi B's "Up" is my go-to pump up jam. It's under 3 minutes long, so I always listen to it a few times before it's go time.
What would you tell your younger self?
I would tell my younger self—and any young person looking to me today—that you can be your authentic self and continue to do what you love. You do not need to compromise any part of yourself. You know yourself better than anyone else, so just be you: they'll adjust.
Do you have any pre-event rituals or superstitions?
It's not really a superstition, but I always take a moment to be grateful for my health and that I get to do this. It's not lost on me that, as of this moment, young trans kids like me in several states across the country are banned from playing sports with their peers because of discriminatory laws. Every event and even every training session feels like an ode to those young people and a reminder that I can be an example of hope and possibility for other LGBTQ and specifically trans athletes. That's what drives me.
If you could ask allies to do one thing, what would it be?
Visit transathlete.com to see the policies for your sport and the bills and laws that are being discussed in your state, and then take action. I have action items, and ways allies can show up for the trans community—doing so publicly goes a long way right now in helping show support for trans people and specifically trans youth across the country.
Chris will lead a ride on June 5 at 4:00pm PT and a run on June 30 at 7:30am PT