I have never thought of myself as someone who actively “Breaks the Bias”. When I hear that phrase, I imagine a person who lives their life in order to create change or someone who holds that innate ability to inspire others. Honestly, I am doing my best to merely survive.
I am Garrin Evans. I am a proud, 31-year-old AAPI Trans woman in the bike industry. Sometimes the weight of my existence alone feels exhausting. With the representation of Trans women today – especially in sports – maybe I don’t need to be chasing the title of Barrier Breaker or Advocate, but instead, find the energy to go on that one ride I thought I was too tired for and perhaps meet someone new on the trail. That alone can be enough to Break the Bias.
When I first came out, I thought my life, my career, and my relationships were over. I didn’t see any Trans folks in my workplace or in my friend groups. I didn’t know any Trans women in the cycling industry. Facing the possible loss of what I had known for 25 years of my life was all-consuming. I didn’t see how or where I would fit. I experienced mixed reactions to coming out, some negative and some positive. Despite those negatives shaping us into a better and stronger version of ourselves, they can sometimes overwhelm and take front and center in our lives.
I was afraid of any human interaction or public area presenting as my true self. I literally felt trapped in my own house, and I feared what the future would hold and what my life would look like moving forward. I stopped riding. Like almost everything else, riding wasn’t comfortable anymore. My once safe space felt unfamiliar and having to reacquaint myself in this world was far too daunting.
Over time this journey has taught me that I’m allowed to be here and that I belong in the industry as a Trans woman and as a cyclist.
Because of the insecurity and fear I was feeling from face-to-face customer experiences, I needed a change of pace, and after a lot of uncertainty, I found a job with Specialized Bicycles. I started in 2017 as a customer service rep. I basically got to nerd out on the phone with riders and help them find solutions to their problems. I worked in that role for two years before I landed a new gig as the Roval Wheel Service Rep for the U.S. I build, repair, and service wheels for U.S.-based customers and shops. I’m currently the only lady doing this now, so I see a lot of wheels and love it!
In all honesty, I don't really have a plan on what I’m doing or how I’m doing it as a Trans woman working in the bike industry. All I know is I am getting by with really good support for coworkers and friends, in and outside of the industry. I have gotten to this place in my journey, which is still in its beginnings, by just saying “Yes”. Granted being able to say “Yes” has taken a long time and a lot of work.
Confidence is a hard thing for everyone and can be especially hard as a Trans woman in a space dominated by Cis people. If I let the fear of judgment or the fear of what others will think of me hold me back, I wouldn't be where I am today.
Once the pandemic hit, like everyone else, I felt like I needed to find a new hobby not only because I was bored out of my mind, but I also needed something to focus on other than my anxiety (which was magnified when the quarantine began. I decided to pick up a camera again after a handful of years but instead of digital, I wanted to do something different. I picked up a film camera hoping it would help slow my brain down. It allowed me to slow things down but also ended up being something that I fell in love with. I never leave the house without a camera and generally every time I throw my leg over a bike, I bring a camera to make the ride just that much more fun.
By just existing, I am breaking the bias. Because the world we currently live in continues to say that women like me shouldn’t exist and that we don’t have a space in this industry or community.
When I think of the next step in my career, be it bike racing, events, or a different job, a whole lot of anxiety sets in. This worry is very real and can be intimidating. But if an opportunity presents itself, I’m not going to say “No” anymore. I'm ready to live and see what life has for me. Over time this journey has taught me that I’m allowed to be here and that I belong in the industry as a Trans woman and as a cyclist.
At the end of the day, I have experienced fear, love, ups, and downs (lots of ups and downs). Back to Breaking the Bias. By just existing, I am breaking the bias. Because the world we currently live in continues to say that women like me shouldn’t exist and that we don’t have a space in this industry or community.
To the Trans humans out there, don’t ever feel like you are not doing enough. You don’t have to have thousands of followers on social media. You don’t have to be at the front holding the flag. If you want to do more, only do so if you feel comfortable and safe. By simply existing, you are doing enough and with that, I and all Trans women, are Breaking the Bias.
In honor of Garrin’s essay for International Women's Day, SRAM is excited to support two Trans femme or non-binary women to attend Roam Fest in Sedona, Arizona, November 3-6, 2022, to help grow the Trans women community within mountain biking and #BreaktheBias. Learn more about RoamFest here.
Word by Garrin Evans. Photos by Eric Arce. Video by Sarah Dotson.