Pull For Pride Athlete Rebecca Fox: "Ally is a verb, not a noun."
How do you identify? Tell us a little about yourself:
I’m a queer fat femme.
What does Pull for Pride mean to you and what's motivating you to participate?
There are so few resources for homeless or low income queer and trans youth. Helping to get money to support young people while lifting is my dream.
When did you begin barbell training and what inspired you to start?
I was big into Crossfit and triathlons for a while, but really hated running. LIKE SO MUCH.
Powerlifting made me feel strong and like “this short, round body is good at a sport.” My little legs and short arm span are actually an advantage, in everything except deadlifting. Can't we have bench for bis or something?
What do you find fulfilling about training?
Getting stronger is amazing. Being able to lift heavy things in and out of the gym has so improved my sense of self and respect for my body.
What do you find challenging?
Weight (as in how much people weigh) and diet/macro talk.
As a fat person, it is really discouraging to hear people talking about their bodies in ways that apply directly to your own.
Hearing other women in particular talk about how they don’t want big arms or don’t want to get “bulky”. . .ugh, I was born bulky, I’ve always had big arms, and weightlifting gets you bigger. I went to an all-girl school and so many of my friends had eating disorders, when I hear people talking about restricting food or water cuts, I want to be like “WHAT ABOUT YOUR KIDNEYS.”
What message or advice do you have for folks who might want to start strength training but aren't sure how or where to begin?
Find a coach you can work with who understands what you want for your body and your health.
As queer and trans people, we often have different desires than straight cis people for how our bodies look and function. Find a coach that respects that.
When I started working with Coach Sean at Murder of Crows Barbell. I told him that I couldn’t handle talk about food, even stuff that should be easy like “get this many grams of protein a day.” He has always respected that and never brought it up with me. Because our initial relationship was based in trust, it has helped me go to him with honesty around my training needs and limitations.
If you are trans and/or queer, do you have any words of encouragement or insights for other trans and queer folks for navigating gym environments and approaching training?
I am queer, but not trans or gendernonconforming. I think it is very different for those of us who are cis and gender conforming when it comes to gym spaces. Gender nonconforming and trans people are so intensely policed when it comes to gyms, from locker rooms to weight rooms.
I would encourage making a list of what you need to feel safe in a gym and emailing coaches to ask if their gyms have that. Are there single stall bathrooms? What about changing rooms? I would also see who is on their website. Is everyone shown on their site a white cis jacked dude bro? If so, no thanks.
Do you have any advice or encouragements for cisgender and straight allies who want to help make the gym a more welcoming space for trans and queer folks?
Be friendly and mind your own business. The misogyny and fat phobia that makes “allies” think it is helpful to correct form or help load weights or just comment in general is some male dominance bullshit. If I need help, I’ll ask.
Also push for things like single stall restrooms and changing spaces. Ally is a verb, not a noun.
Do you have a strength role model(s) in your life (this could be strength training or strength in other ways)?
I really adore Sarah Robles. She is a super heavyweight Olympic medalist and her Instagram (roblympian) is inspiration and joy. She is strong af, but also posts pictures of herself working out in just a sports bra and pants, talks about how her body helps her excel at her sport, and is an amazing ally to LGBT people. She has helped me move to a place of really thinking about how parts of my body that I’ve denigrated or dislike actually help me be a better lifter. When I’ve DMed, she has responded and it is like “HOLY SHIT I AM TALKING TO AN OLYMPIAN.”
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
For straight and cis people, it feels very cool right now to be an “ally,” but being an ally isn’t just pulling for pride or wearing rainbow once a year, it is how you show up every day in every place. Racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, fatphobia, they are all intertwined, be an ally in all spaces not just ones that seem easier.