Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 13 / 29 March 2018

Trans man's trek for equality cut short


Mikal Chall arrived at the Emeryville Amtrak station in April with his one-of-a-kind walking trailer; he abandoned his cross-country walk near Placerville three weeks later. (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)
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An attempt to cross America by foot was abandoned by trans man Mikal Chall before he made it out of California.

Chall, 37, who believed he was the first transgender man to attempt to walk across the U.S., set out from San Francisco on April 23. His goal was to raise awareness about inequalities and to make it to Washington, D.C. by Election Day.

A secondary goal was, at 314 pounds, he hoped to lose some weight in order to complete his sex reassignment surgery.

But three weeks into his journey, Chall, who is from Travers City, Michigan, was in Placerville in the Sierra Nevada foothills heading toward the Nevada border when his fiancee Terra Truelove developed health issues, his eldest daughter had complications with her second pregnancy, and he faced constant pressure from his mother to end the trek. Disappointed, Chall walked back to Sacramento and got on a plane home to his fiancee Terra Truelove and his family and friends.

Chall, who lost 40 pounds, vows to resume his journey in the future.

"[I] will absolutely attempt to walk across America again," said Chall. He told the B.A.R. that he would start right where he left off in Placerville.

His advice for anyone else attempting to walk across "the land of the free," is to "just enjoy every minute of it."

The lessons he learned about himself and other people are priceless, he said.

Chall learned about his own perseverance – when his handcrafted walking trailer was thrown into a garbage bin by a Starbucks employee and then taped up after a truck driver backed into it – and his ability to accept people for who they are during his brief journey.

He was deeply touched by the homeless people, especially the veterans, who looked after him and shared their space without asking anything in return.

"There are people who care and they care at the lowest point in their lives," Chall said.

Lastly, he realized there are more allies for equality than ever before, he said.


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