A trans non-binary athlete’s story of running a marathon in heels

My name is Justin Dickens. I live on Dena’ina land in Anchorage Alaska, and I’m going to run the Mayor’s Marathon in high heels (on 6/19/2021).

I’ll be wearing heels that I picked up from Goodwill. I shopped for fit, structure and comfort. It took quite a few shopping trips to find the most optimal heels, which I was totally okay with. They are both black (unfortunately, because if you know me, you know I lean more toward bright colors), but they will be great contrast for my bright pink Injinji toes socks.

I’ll actually be carrying a second pair…


I hid so much of myself from others, and I negotiated shame daily. But what was never up for debate was my truth.

Have you ever been offered a gift that was so beautiful, and so profound, that you were afraid to accept it? I experienced this recently when a mentor shared a story with me. It was a story about me, but one that had become strategically, secretly, and traumatically erased from my memory.

As I welcomed their share, I felt the security of my words snatched away from me. I couldn’t comprehend how to reply, but I felt gratitude, relief, and love. In the silence, I finally felt heard.

It was 2013 when I bought a pair of ankle boots from…


A trans person’s journey to reconnecting with radical self-love

Day 4 of Creating Change. I’m sad it’s over and I wish it was in person, but I am changed. And I don’t say that lightly. Like all the other days, there is too much to share. I want to share a moment, a learning I didn’t expect, which even that grew outside the bounds of an Instagram post.

In a convo, we were asked to talk about shared trans love, and I struggled to think of trans folks who I have felt loved by. …


In the last 60 days, I’ve been broken, not broken, sorta broken, definitely not broken, probably broken, and whatever today is.

Hey Justin, I notice your last name has changed…? That’s how the first zoom call of the morning began, and I didn’t expect to be caught off-guard. I’d been trying out the change for weeks, but I almost lost my words as the facilitator gently nudged for meaning. “Was there a wedding?” to which I replied, “No. Kind of the opposite.” I said it was okay and we continued with the meeting. And, it was okay. I sent them a follow-up email reiterating I wasn’t upset with them (but also needed a document for a task).

I’ve known the date…


A non-binary divorcee’s journey towards finding radical self-love

A week ago, I decided to stop drinking. It was surprisingly an easy decision, as it felt like the only decision. As I road passenger on the way back from a weekend adventure, I watched the snowy peaks pass by, listened to my friend recount the weekend back to me, and reflected on my three year relationship with alcohol. At some point, I remembered why I started drinking, and that is when I realized it was time to cut ties.

Alcohol was turning me into somebody I felt ashamed of, just as I had always feared it would. I am…


Creating a better, safer, more loving world for you and me

As we head into 2021, I want to focus my attention on opportunities and possibilities. There is still a lot of pain left to process, to voice (or, write about), and I genuinely think that will help me heal and move forward. But, I need a quick break, a little time to rest, and the motivation of some forward-thinking energy.

As I read “The Body Is Not An Apology”, by Sonya Renee Taylor, I’ve been having a lot of thoughts (and some feelings). …


A non-binary divorcee’s journey towards finding radical self-love

A month ago, my partner of 11 years and I decided to break up. I shared what that meant for me in this Medium blog. I opened up about how much my partner and I loved each other, my non-binary(ness), and my plan to reclaim my story by running a marathon in high heels. At this point, nearly 500 people have seen that story, many had very affirming responses. “Live your truth”. “Proud of you”. “So brave”. It’s the most reactions I’ve ever had to one of my posts. The Go Fund Me to get my two front teeth back…


A non-binary divorcee’s journey towards finding radical self-love

I feel very alone, and I don’t want to. Allow me to explain the breath of that. First, I am privileged. I am supported by so many people, I have a salaried job, and I’m not without food to eat or a place to sleep. I I could go on… and on. Although, despite all that support, love and safety, I feel like I’m on an adventure, not sure where to go, and without a guide.

I’m in a leadership academy (I don’t know how else to describe the year-long experience) and today we talked about personal support systems. While…


A non-binary divorcee’s journey towards finding radical self-love

Last night, I literally couldn’t figure out what to write about. I tried. I typed some stuff, but nothing happened for me. What’s the point in writing if I don’t feel it? I never figured out anything to write about. The night was, meh (that’s probably sugar coating it). Nevertheless, today, I realized what I wanted to write about, and it was quite surprising, really surprising actually. I made myself go on a long night time bike ride with friends, and oh did it bring some clarity. It’s midnight now, but when the mood strikes, the mood strikes. …


A Non-Binary Divorcee’s Journey to Finding Radical Self-Love

Today, I realized that most people see me as broken. The world assumes I’m broken. I’m supposed to be broken. I even said, at least to myself, “I’m broken”. But, that’s not the truth. At least, it’s not the whole truth. I’ve been sad. I needed to mourn. I needed to sit with the feelings of change. But, there is just something so definitive about that word: broken. A person is either broken or they aren’t, and with everything I’ve navigated, I assume people think I’m broken. I have felt broken, for certain, when I was at my lowest, in…

Justin Dickens

Justin (they/them) is a non-binary divorcée writing about their journey to (re)connect with radical self-love and run a marathon in high heels. 👠💪🏻💜🦄🏳️‍🌈

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