Molly Cameron is finally headed to Arkansas.
Cameron, a racer, team owner, and LGBTQ+ activist, has wanted to travel to Arkansas ever since news broke that the state was passing laws to limit the rights of transgender people.
She considered traveling to northwest Arkansas ahead of the UCI U.S. Pro Cup mountain bike races in April, but the timing wasn’t quite right.
“I know bike racing, it happens and then it’s over,” Cameron told VeloNews. “It didn’t seem like there was gonna be a big action item, so I think my time was better spent at home. And, I’m also practical about — ‘what the hell can I do? I’m not from Arkansas.’ I’m not trying to be the white savior flying down to save Arkansans.”
Now, Cameron is headed to Arkansas this week to meet with as many people as possible — from tourism boards to industry players to trans youth — to discuss the anti-trans laws and to see for herself how they will impact people there. Cameron said she wants to “Amplify the voices of Arkansans. To start building the trust. To see what I can do.”
She also plans to race her bicycle. On Saturday, she’ll line up in Bentonville at the Rule of Three gravel race.
Cameron is known for speaking out about transgender rights in the U.S. cycling scene, and her work around LGBTQ communities has often happened off the radar. Cameron is also busy outside of advocacy, and she owns and operates the Point S Auto-Nokian Tyres pro team, as well as the Portland Bicycle Studio bike shop.
However, when the Arkansas legislature began pushing through anti-trans laws, including House Bill 1570, the so-called Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act which denies transgender individuals under the age of 18 access to gender-affirming care, the cycling industry took note. Fayetteville, Arkansas is set to host the 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships, as well as a ‘cross World Cup later this year.
Cameron was the one that everyone called over the debacle.
“More than anyone or any one organization, I authentically represent the cycling industry, bike racing, the sport, and the LGBTQ community,” she said.
However, since the initial din has died down and no plans have been made to relocate the cyclocross events, Cameron said that she fears this will go down as another one of cycling’s legless “reactions to every little disaster.”
“I’ve been in touch with everyone, but no one is listening to Arkansas,” Cameron said. “No one has been in touch with people in Arkansas. People are calling for boycott, brands don’t know what to do, USA Cycling continues to fumble. I’m not here to burn anyone down. But these people and organizations don’t realize how bad this is. There has to be something more than another DEI summit and another press release.”
When Cameron is in northwest Arkansas later this week, she plans to connect with some of those people and organizations; however, she’s not beholden to any person, brand, or organization. Her focus is on the people in the LGBTQ community that she’s connected with through networking and social media.
At this point, Cameron isn’t pushing for a boycott of the entire state. She doesn’t want to create more innocent victims, and she’s sick of waiting for the sport and industry to do something about it. In fact, Cameron is taking her activism one step further.
She’s close to finalizing plans on a LGBTQ advocacy and lobbying organization that can start doing some of the heavy legwork that has been taking up so much of her time and energy. In addition to helping anyone from a bicycle retailer to a team manager navigate the turbulence of anti-trans and LGBTQ activity, the yet-to-be-named group will also put pressure on the political forces behind it.
There are countless states that have passed anti-trans legislation this year, including specific anti-trans sports bans in Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Montana, and West Virginia. Cameron realizes that the spotlight on Arkansas will likely shine elsewhere, on another event, in the near future.
That’s exactly why she’s going to Arkansas this week — to begin to do the work that will continue to inform it.
“‘Cross worlds is going to come and go and you’re still going to be left with these issues,” she said. “It’s not cycling’s job to do the work for the general public, but then again, cycling should give a shit about everyone. If we want everyone on bikes then we should care about the families that are going to move because their kids are questioning, or who aren’t going to buy bikes in your state. It serves everyone if we do this work.”