KRISTIN EBELING is the Director of Seattle’s Skate Like a Girl, an organization that promotes confidence, leadership and social justice through the sport of skateboarding. The group produces many events throughout the summer at Seattle Center Skatepark, Seattle Center’s skateboard park.
“As someone who skated for five years without Skate Like a Girl and without the work of this community, it was really hard. I learned to skate with mostly guys. At first, before I went through puberty, they treated me like one of the guys– I was nothing different. But then as we started to get older it became more and more obvious that I was developing and looked a lot different from them. The things that guys would say to me, the ways that I’d be excluded–lots of micro-aggressions.
The only gendered term you’ll see [in our promotional materials] is girl. We’re trying to challenge gender stereotypes, and a huge part of gender stereotypes is that it’s binary. The whole idea is that we’re just creating a really positive space for youth. We’re trying to reach out to youth who are gender nonconforming and/or transitioning, because other sports are more conservative and the point of our organization is to give everyone a place. At the indoor skate park, we changed the bathroom signs to be inclusive. We ask kids their pronouns. It’s really important to make kids feel safe, starting with asking them how they identify.”