Dedicating her achievement to “the resilience of the trans community” that “took me in when I had no hope”, Parisi said trans people “showed me that it’s better to be visible and free, than live in self-imposed exile, and that stigma withers when we visibly embrace our truth”.
Parisi added, in an Instagram post: “We’ve been pushed down, often even beat up, and faced every kind of coldness through our lives – our resilience keeps us rising to the top.”
She reached the 4,892 metre summit of Vinson Massif on 26 December after setting off for Antarctica on 18 December.
Reaching the highest point in Antarctica is part of Parisi’s years-long attempt to be the first openly trans woman to complete the “Seven Summits”: a mountaineering challenge to climb to the highest point of each of the planet’s seven continents.
Antarctica’s Vinson Massif was Parisi’s fifth peak of the seven summits: she still has Mount Denali, in Alaska, and Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, left to go.
Speaking to PinkNews in July 2020, when she’d reached four of the seven peaks, Parisi also spoke about resilience when thinking about ascending Mount Everest as an openly trans climber: “When I look at Everest, I really very much see it as our way to be resilient, and to show that story of strength and recovery and resilience.”
She also described climbing Russia’s Mount Elbrus in June 2018. She didn’t fly a trans flag at the summit – the rainbow Pride flag is considered anti-family propaganda in Russia, and Erin knew she couldn’t face two weeks in a Russian prison – but she made a ‘T’ symbol with her hands at the top. “That T is kind of my little rebellion where it’s like, you know, I’m trans and I’m on top of this mountain, the highest point in Europe, and this is this is who I am.”
As well summiting Vinson Massif in 2021, Parisi has climbed Argentina’s Aconcagua, in 2019; Russia’s Mount Elbrus, in 2018; Tanazania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, on International Women’s Day (8 March) in 2018; and Australia’s Mount Kosciuszko, also in 2018.
For each summit, Parisi takes a trans Pride flag – the pink, white and blue flag designed by trans Navy veteran Monica Helms – to plant at the peak.
Helms is aware of Parisi’s mission: “She said it’s her life’s dream to see it sit on top of Mount Everest. I did commit to Monica that I would bring a trans flag to the top of Everest.”