Hello, my name is Amber Morgan. My pronouns are she/her/hers. I am a disabled person. I have Cerebral Palsy. I am also a trans person. I am a trans woman. I am a disabled runner. This means that I run races in a wheelchair pushing myself the distance of a race. Most races I am the only athlete that is in a wheelchair. So I compete against those on foot. I am also an activist locally in my home town in Upstate NY and on the state level for the LGBTQIA+ community, the mental health community, and my disabled community.
I really wanted to talk about my running. Talk about my transition in being a trans woman. Talk also about being disabled doing what I do.
I started my running journey 3 years ago.
I was really struggling with my depression and where I fit in. I was really struggling with my body image. I was struggling with physical health. I had gained a good number of pounds that was making getting around difficult.
I had a hard time accepting that and was still unhappy slipping into a depression. Things were very bleak. I was looking at hormone therapy and because of my physical health the way it was I would not be able to take hormones to help my transition. I knew I needed a change. I needed a healthier lifestyle. I needed happiness. I had to find it.
A friend talked to me because they really noticed this and felt very uncomfortable with seeing the path I was taking.
We talked and my friend suggested I get involved in sports, especially running. I have always loved sports. I always wanted to play as a kid. I didn't play because of resources where I lived so I felt left behind. I wanted to play soccer and basketball. That was my dream.
So I started taking a hold of that childhood dream to make it now an adult dream of being a disabled athlete by starting to run. I only had a hospital style wheelchair not built for running or going quickly. I trained for a bit but I wasn't consistent.
So with some encouragement from other friends I decided I was going to sign up for my first race …the Burlington VT Color Run. I did that race which was a lot of fun. It was fun because you get powdered paint thrown at you at paint stations you run through. Who doesn't like being colorful while you run?
Life was looking up for me. I was living a healthier lifestyle. Lost a little bit of weight getting cleared by my doctor to start HRT.
That next year I signed up and ran 12 races having the same wheelchair. I knew I needed a new, better, more fitting chair that would enable me to run faster and easier. I worked with a few friends to get a sport wheelchair and got it this past June. That June I signed up for my first major race and 5k. I signed up for the Friehofer's Run for Women in Albany.
This is a 5k where there is everyone from around the world elite runners down to runners like me just the casual runner. I finished that race and earned myself a personal best time by twenty minutes.
Why am I sharing this? Well simple. This race is my hardest race to date. The first mile and a half was all uphill. It was a challenge…a huge challenge way over my head. I took that challenge on.
Living a disabled life has challenges. We have obstacles or things we have to overcome. Life isn't easy but at the end of the day we need to keep pushing. Keep fighting. Push on through those obstacles so that when we cross our own finish lines just not in a race we can be happy. We can rest our head on our pillow at night in bed knowing that we pushed our limits to test. We can show people that despite our disabilities we can do amazing things.
I'm happier than I have ever been. I'm not focused on my weight anymore just focus on being healthy in the body I have. It's not about the size you are but the heart and determination that is within that makes a person amazing.
Amber Morgan, 29, is a disabled non binary trans woman athlete and activist. She goes by the pronouns she/her/hers. She lives in Upstate NY where she trains for races.