In dog mushing — a sport where both humans and dogs compete regardless of gender — Mountain, 40, has found a welcoming community. It’s a privilege few trans athletes get to experience, he acknowledged, and one the musher has rarely encountered himself. Gender always posed problems for the athlete, who was assigned female at birth but described himself as a gender-nonconforming kid throughout his youth. He remembered trying out for the softball team at his Wisconsin high school. Despite being faster and more aggressive than many of the girls, he said he didn’t make the cut.
“I don’t know what it was, but I had a lot of trouble taking part in girls’ sports,” Mountain said. “I was often told that I was too aggressive, that I didn’t fit in with the team, wasn’t good for the cohesion of the team, that kind of thing.”
As an adult, Mountain found support in the small community of dog mushing. His fans, the “Ugly Dogs,” a group of mushing enthusiasts who follow him and his wife, fellow musher Blair Braverman, on social media, raised $57,000 for him to compete in the Iditarod and qualifying races. Whenever he’s feeling down or discouraged, he said he can turn to the Ugly Dogs for support.
My family used to vacation near Mountain, where BraverMountain Mushing is located, and it’s … people don’t believe me when I tell them suburban Wisconsin is far more Trumpist than the rural areas are. But out in the wild nobody cares about anything except what you can do, and everybody helps everybody else because everybody will need help at some point because that’s how it is.
I don’t know shit about shit when it comes to dogs, or sports, or outdoor anything (my idea of roughing it is a hotel without a pool) but I’m a sucker for good stories about unlikely victories in the face of impossible odds. I started reading Blair Braverman’s work last year, before her first Iditarod, and that’s how we all wound up mailing LEGOs to Alaska.
Follow Quince’s progress via the #Qditarod tag here.