When Quinn Lindstrom moved to Portland six months ago, she quickly fell in love with cycling, and began to seek out a group that shared her passion. But although there are more than 10 bike clubs within the city and countless others around Oregon, Lindstrom, a transgender woman, struggled to find one that felt like a good fit. She eventually decided to start her own group, Transgender Riders United (TRU), where trans folk of all genders could cycle together without judgment. We chatted with Lindstrom to find out how TRU came to be and what it means for Portland.
How did Transgender Riders United start?
When I started looking for woman’s cycling group, I had to find one that doesn’t just say that it accepts everyone and is fully inclusive, but actually is, in practice, doing it. I ended up meeting Leah [Benson] at Gladys Bikes [and learned that I wasn’t] the only trans person who had gone there and asked about this. We ended up hitting it off and weeks go by and I go in and ask her again. She basically said, “Do you want to do it? I will support you in any way you need officially to make this happen.”
What is your goal for the group?
To try and remove judgment from lives that can already have an extreme amount of challenges and hurdles. The one thing you should be able to do is have people to ride with. We are now looking ahead to see what the group can do next. The idea is that no matter where you are under the transgender terminology umbrella, you have a place here, and no one is going to say that you don’t. You are not going to get judged.
Were you afraid to take this on yourself?
I’m pessimistic about most people and defensive by default—not in a judgmental way, but a sort of self-protective way. That’s how I went into this when I started; I was like, “I need to be careful, I need to protect myself here.” But instead, the community opened up its arms and wanted to help. Bike shops that I had previously connected with said, “You just tell us what you need and what we can do for this group and how we can help and support you.” Everyone just opened their shops and hearts.
How was the first ride?
We did our first official ride last weekend, and we had six people, including me. The ride on Sunday really helped solidify the benefit of this group; the lofty ideals I had going into it were suddenly very clarified. I had a conversation with a guy from in the group and he said things that were eerily similar to what I was feeling when I first started getting into cycling, which is, “It kind of sucks to do this all alone all the time.”
How you heard of a trans rider group anywhere else in the US?
Not a big one. Something that I have heard before from trans men is that because testosterone really kicks them in the ass, they just prefer to blend into mostly male normative culture, and could basically just elect to go to regular male cycling groups. There are trans feminine people and non-binary people mixed into groups in Portland, but there were never enough of them in one place. That is what makes TRU different and it is one of the goals: it’s a space for trans people by trans people.
Check for future rides with TRU on the group's Facebook page.