Mountaineer Erin Parisi Flies Trans Pride Flag on Highest Summits

by Emell Adolphus

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday January 6, 2022

After coming out as a transgender woman, mountaineer Erin Parisi has been on a mission to share her truth from the highest points of the Earth.

Parisi, who lives in Denver, Colorado, has been climbing mountains for about 25 years. But she says she has only recently found the courage to live in her truth in a big way, NBC News reported.

"I felt so strong after coming out," she said. "I lived in fear, basically my whole life, of being seen, and when I came out, I found something that was completely different."

Parisi began channeling her energy into climbing, and now she is working on climbing the world's highest seven peaks and flying the transgender flag when she gets there.

"It just made a lot of sense," she said. "Going to the highest point on any land and being able to say who you are and tell the world that you're proud of who you are, where you can't be accused of hiding or you can't be shoved into the shadows, spoke to my soul."

Just shy of her 45th birthday, Parisi made it to the top of Vinson Massif, the highest point in Antartica, and waved a transgender pride flag. Next she plans to attempt Denali in Alaska, the highest peak in North America, and then Mount Everest in South Asia.

In preparing for her summits, Parisi has undergone intensive physical training. Additionally, she has also worked with a mental coach who taught her to "tune out the noise and the negativity that was directed at the trans population" last year, she said. And she hopes her story can be a positive story that rises above negativity.

"I haven't seen a lot of trans stories or trans representation shared in the world at all, let alone in positive ways throughout the media, and I spent a lifetime looking for those examples, only to come up short-handed until recently," said Parisi. "So carrying that flag is my way of saying, 'I'm here, and I'm proud of who I am.' And I'm going to stand on the highest point in the world, or wherever I am, and say that."

In her Instagram post about the accomplishment, Parisi added that she's "dedicating" the moment to "the resilience of the trans community."

"The community that took me in when I had no hope, and showed me that it's better to be visible and free, than live in self imposed exile, and that stigma withers when we visibly embrace our truth," she wrote. "We've been pushed down, often even beat up, and faced every kind of coldness through our lives - our resilience keeps us rising to the top. Together we forged thru a 2021 during which the world tried to deny us dignity in healthcare, the right to hold jobs, the right to play sports, perpetuated stigma through comedians and podcasters on the world's most popular channels, and continued escalating the voices of violence against us. We fought back in a way that shouldn't have to be a fight: by living our best lives.

This is my answer to a world that lashed out at trans lives in 2021: You can try to push me to the bottom of the world, and I'll still find a way to the top. I won't settle to be pushed into shadows. Aim higher haters...," she added.