Woman embarks on trans-American bike trip to promote transgender pride

Woman embarks on Trans-American bike trip to promote transgender pride

Story | Bridget Ekis

Thompson in front of the Chicago skyline with her bike and a LGBTQ pride flag. Photo courtesy | Nava Dustiné Thompson

Every morning, she gets on her bike and heads west. One day, she’s in a bed and breakfast in Chillicothe, Ohio and next she is sitting along the shore of Lake Michigan with Chicago’s skyline in the distance. This has been Nava Dustiné Thompson’s life since Aug. 1. 

Her goal is to promote transgender pride and awareness across the country by biking the Trans-American Bike Highway. 

Thompson, a Charlotte, North Carolina native, has been openly living as a transgender woman for five years, she said.

“I was assigned male at birth, but I have known since kindergarten that I was female,” she said. “I couldn’t keep being who I was…when I came out it was the best day of my life.”

Starting on Ocracoke Island, on the outer banks of North Carolina, her finish line will be Eugene, Oregon. She has traveled just over 1,000 miles so far and along the way she has been documenting her travels on her Facebook page, “Transgender Pride Trans-American Bike Trip.”

Thompson started a GoFundMe with a goal of raising $100,000 to help fund her transition costs. So far, she has raised $3,330.

Thompson reached the Indiana stateline Aug. 25. Photo courtesy | Nava Dustiné Thompson

“Significant problems facing the trans community include a lack of legal protection, employment barriers, poverty, harassment, anti-transgender physical and psychological violence and significant barriers to healthcare,” according to her GoFundMe page. “We are left with little resources to help us live as our true selves, resulting in a life without the full dignity we deserve, in the face of hate and humiliation.” 

Growing up in Charlotte, Thompson said it was difficult to be openly transgender because of peoples’ homophobia. But she added that it was also difficult to hide this part of herself.

 “To have to present oneself to the world and have the other side be completely put away is so difficult and harsh,” she said, 

Despite having to suppress part of herself for some time, Thompson said she has never felt more comfortable with herself.

“As I’ve transitioned, and taken hormone therapy, it’s just been so harmonious to have my identity be in touch with the chemicals of it in my body,” she said.

Thompson pictured in front of the Des Moines Pride Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo courtesy | Nava Dustine Thompson

In the early days of her trip, Thompson was caught in a storm in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with little shelter. With a great deal of kindness, a woman found Thompson struggling and paid to put her in a hotel for the evening.

“People can truly be amazing, and she certainly was,” Thompson wrote on her GoFundMe post. “Love is ingrained in us, but it’s also a choice. Choose love, because those waves keep our world in balance and continue on well beyond the deed.”

Thompson still has 1,902 miles to go at time of press and hopes that by the end of her trip she will have raised enough funds to pay for her surgery costs.

“To  present oneself to the world and have the other side be completely put away is so difficult and harsh, she said. “And to open up and say, ‘this is me, this is who I am, this is myself’ is so powerful.”

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