The Significance of Keep on Board: The Leo Baker Story

As a teen and as a younger grownup, Leo Baker was a rising star within the aggressive skateboarding scene — a gritty, down-to-earth sport that had lengthy been excluded from extra conventional landscapes such because the Olympics. When skateboarding was launched through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, reactions from the skate community were mixed, however many professionals and followers of the game noticed the transfer as an opportunity to carry skateboarding to the world stage.

It was no shock that Baker certified for the Olympics after profitable the Street League Tremendous Crown in 2016 and a string of different worldwide skating competitions. However the Olympics is organized by intercourse assigned at delivery, not gender id — and there is presently no possibility for nonbinary or genderqueer athletes to compete. By 19, Baker knew he was trans, however at 28 he’d certified for the ladies’s Olympic crew.

The Olympics have a really regressive stance on trans athletes. In 1968, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) mandated “gender verification” for feminine athletes, which, in its early years, included visible commentary and gynecological examination earlier than turning to “much less invasive” genetic testing. The coverage, which was launched to stop males from utilizing their obvious bodily benefit in ladies’s sports activities, led to 1999 — however not likely. Athletes like Indian sprinter Dutee Chand and South African runner Caster Semenya have been pressured to bear testing since then, and trans athletes have lengthy known as for updates to the IOC’s insurance policies.

The discriminatory historical past of aggressive sports activities left Baker with a selection: to compete or bow out. Baker determined to stop the Olympics. What occurred subsequent is the topic of the brand new documentary “Keep on Board: The Leo Baker Story,” which premiered at film festival Outfest in July earlier than arriving on Netflix on August 11.

“I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life, past what I might have ever even imagined,” Baker advised Rolling Stone in an interview. He added, “Purging all of the stuff that was not working for me, like quitting the Olympics and eliminating all these items that was not ‘it,’ created a clearing for issues which are it or may very well be it.”

The documentary exhibits Baker, now 30, doing what he loves on his personal phrases. Along with touchdown a sponsorship with Nike, Baker cofounded the queer skate company Glue Skateboards with fellow skater Stephen Ostrowski.

“We take our crew on journeys and do issues that we had been by no means capable of do as a result of there was not area for trans queer individuals to be in skating in that means,” Baker told Rolling Stone. “We’re dwelling our childhood desires of happening skate journeys, filming, hanging out with our crew and being round individuals which are queer or are down for us.”

However getting the movie proper was a course of. After getting feedback during an early screening process, administrators Nicola Marsh and Giovanni Reda realized they wanted assist to correctly inform Baker’s story. Each cisgender, the administrators invited GLAAD Director of Transgender Illustration Alex Schmider onto the mission to make sure they had been depicting the story with dignity. He ultimately joined as an govt producer.

“Regardless of the stakes or expectations, regardless of how excessive or set, Leo exhibits it is by no means too late to be your self and outline the phrases in your life.”

“Credit score to Nicola and Reda, who, when made conscious of the movie’s limitations, knew to have interaction with a filmmaker from the trans neighborhood to assist inform Leo’s story with authenticity,” Schmider tells “This sort of collaboration can solely succeed when everyone seems to be prepared to belief one another, be open to suggestions, and transfer with intention and accountability towards a shared imaginative and prescient, which Nicola and Reda did with a real want to inform Leo’s story with the deepest respect for the communities he is an element.”

Schmider continued: “Many tales about trans individuals miss that probably the most compelling elements of our lives aren’t essentially about our gender however slightly the person methods we transfer by means of the world as ourselves. So when telling tales about trans individuals, the objective for me is for audiences to get to know and see the total individual; on this case, Leo, in his multidimensionality.”

To Schmider, Baker’s story is about braveness, and the heart it takes to pursue a life actually aligned with who you might be. “Regardless of the stakes or expectations, regardless of how excessive or set, Leo exhibits it is by no means too late to be your self and outline the phrases in your life.”

Now you can stream “Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story” on Netflix.

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