131: Leo Baker/Leo's Way

Leo Baker, Tokyo. Photo: Hannah Bailey

The search for our authentic self is a lifelong process. And not always a successful one. It takes a huge amount of self honesty, and a willingness to embrace consistent and at times not always comfortable evolution.

It’s something we all have to face, whether consciously or not.

But imagine undergoing this entire process as a world-renowned skateboarder – while also trying to juggle both wider societal pressures, and those of a patriarchal industry who have tied your own career success to their own restrictive definitions of gender.

Leo by Hannah Bailey

This is exactly the position Leo Baker faced at the height of their success. And it is why there is so much more to Leo’s story than their admittedly generation-defining feats as a skater.

Today, as they explained during our conversation, Leo is in a very different place, proud to be living authentically as the most high-profile nonbinary trans skater in the world.

Tokyo, 2018. Photo: Hannah Bailey

And yet, as Leo explained during our conversation, gaining the understanding and self-confidence required to finally present as their authentic self has been a long and involved process.

It has involved learning to deal with the collateral damage and mental health issues that have accrued along the way and, ultimately, committing to a measured and long term approach to self-care.
Leo’s story is one of the most important in modern skateboarding. I’m grateful they’ve trusted me to tell it in their own way, and in their own words.

Listen to the episode below:

Connect With Leo

Show Notes

  • Leo in the Tony Hawk Pro Skater reboot
  • How being the first nonbinary trans skater in the game’s history is a watershed moment
  • The significance of Elissa Steamer
  • How social media has changed protesting
  • BLM in New York
  • Episodes of depression
  • Authentic self: Leo
  • Tending to the garden that is mental health
  • The importance of self care
  • Dependency issues, and how it contributes to depression
  • The ‘skateriarchy’ and the toxicity of industry expectations.
  • Fight for equal pay at X-Games
  • Moving to New York
  • The New York Skate Project

People Mentioned

Places Mentioned

  • Southern California
  • New York
  • Los Angeles

Companies/Brands/Contests Mentioned

  • X-Games
  • ESPN
  • Thrasher