'I climb these summits to remind myself and the world that you can be yourself and enjoy the things you enjoy. You don't have to make a choice.'
On December 26, Erin Parisi stepped one step closer to her life mission to make history. The mountaineer completed the fifth milestone in her years-long attempt to become the first trans athlete to complete the "Seven Summits"—a mountaineering challenge to climb to the highest point of all seven continents—by reaching the peak of Antarctica’s highest mountain, Vinson Massif. The 45-year-old marked the occasion by flying the pink, blue and white trans Pride flag by Monica Helms at the summit. Sharing the incredible moment on Instagram a few days later, Parisi dedicated her achievement 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 continued. "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 through 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..." Parisi added. Antarctica's Vinson Massif was Parisi's fifth peak of the seven summits. "I have been trying to train and get to the tops of the highest mountain on every continent: Seven Peaks, seven summits, seven continents," she told the Los Angeles Blade. "I just finished Antarctica, which is an extraordinarily difficult climb as far as logistics, as far as dealing with the weather and the environment, a mountain that's only been climbed 2,000 times before."
"In order, the first five are Mount Kosciusko in Australia. Then I did Kilimanjaro a second time — I climbed it once manifesting as a dude, and I decided that I wanted to do them all post-transition," Parisi continued. "Next, I did Mount Elbrus in Russia, and then I did Aconcagua in South America, not too far from where I'm sitting right now." The determined climber now has her sight set on conquering Mount Denali in Alaska. "That's going to be next, sometime in summer of 2022," she said, adding that she'll then move on to tackling Mount Everest, the last of the seven summits, and at 29,050 feet, the tallest.
"2023 is the 70th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's expedition, and we want to be up there for the 70th anniversary. I think it's a little-known fact that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay had a trans member on their team. And we want to tell her story," she said, referring to Jan Morris, a journalist for The Times of London, who died in 2020. Speaking of carrying a trans Pride flag with her for each summit, Parisi said: "We really take pride in putting the pink, blue and white up there. I climb these summits just to kind of remind myself and remind the world that you can be yourself and you can enjoy the things you enjoy. You don't have to make a choice."