During her senior year the University of Montana, Juniper Eastwood became the first transgender runner to participate in a NCAA Division 1 cross country event, when she represented her college in the women’s division at the Clash of the Inland Northwest meet. June, who grew up in Belgrade, Montana, is a transgender woman.
One of the most important ways that June began to fully understand who she is and gain confidence about taking steps to live as her most authentic self was through running itself. Just like many kids, June found that participation in sports was an important part of her physical, social, and emotional well-being. It allowed her to learn important lessons about leadership, self-discipline, success, and failure – and what it felt like to be a part of a team.
She emphasized in an interview with Runner’s World how important it is to have strong support and encouragement from her friends and teammates. “Having that supportive community is part of what makes this possible,” she said. “It definitely helps dealing with the negativity around you when the people who are in your immediate vicinity are overwhelmingly positive. … Being part of a team means being part of something bigger than myself,” Eastwood says, “and that makes it easier for me and makes the sacrifice more worth it because every single one of those girls that are on the team means so much to me.”