Female Skateboarder Becomes Right-Wing Hero After Losing to Woman, Getting Very Upset on Instagram

Fellow skateboarders say that Taylor Silverman's actions are bad for the community, and potentially dangerous.
A screenshot of Taylor Silverman on Piers Morgan's television show.
Image Source: Piers Morgan

Recently, Taylor Silverman, a skateboarder from Kalamazoo, Michigan, posted to Instagram complaining about how she’d lost a skateboarding contest to a trans woman last November, tagging in a variety of right-wing figures like Ben Shapiro and TIm Pool. She’s subsequently  arrived as a figure in right-wing media, been covered in the Daily Mail, and appeared on Outkick and on Piers Morgan’s show, where she said that what happened to her was an “injustice.” Skaters who were at the contest are far from rallying behind her, though— and three told Motherboard that she and the people she’s talking to don’t represent their views, or those of skateboarders at large.

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The Cornerstone series is a skateboarding competition hosted by Red Bull that takes place across several cities in the Midwest. Last year, Silverman competed at the Detroit qualifiers and at the final contest in Lincoln, Nebraska. What’s made her a minor celebrity on the culture-wars circuit is her having expressed her grievance over how the prizes and money were awarded, because she took second place to a trans woman, Lillian Gallagher.

“I deserved to place first, be acknowledged for my win and to get paid,” Silverman wrote on Instagram. “I am sick of being bullied into silence.”

(Silverman and Gallagher did not respond to requests for comment; Red Bull issued a slightly confusing statement saying it did not ask skateboarders to identify their gender in the registration process, and that skateboarders were allowed to choose whether or not to skate in the men’s or women’s division on the day of the contest. “The basis on which any competition begins must also be the basis on which that competition ends,” the energy drink brand said.)

DeWayne McMurry, a skateboarder and podcaster who hosted the Red Bull Cornerstone contest last year and in 2019, told Motherboard that skateboarding isn’t necessarily the same sport as it was when it started.

“As much as skateboarding will always have a counterculture undertone, I do feel like it runs a bit more parallel to mainstream society now,” McMurry said over email. “Big box shoe brands and energy drink sponsors are keeping some of the most beloved skateboarders' careers afloat. And regardless of peoples opinions on it, skateboarding is now an "olympic sport", so it's kind of hard to say it hasn't gone more mainstream.” ”

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He knows that big sponsors like Red Bull coming through the Midwest to sponsor contests isn’t exactly the counterculture that skateboarding has a reputation for, but sees it as an opportunity for up-and-comers.

“As someone that grew up in Kansas City, I understand how special it is to these kids for a company like Red Bull to come through every year and give them an opportunity that they otherwise might not have,” McMurry said. “Since I've been a part of it I've developed some really cool relationships with a lot of the kids. The women's skate scene has grown tremendously since my first time hosting it back in 2019.”

To McMurry and other skaters who spoke to Motherboard, Silverman’s reaction to the contest is confusing, not least because the results came in six months ago.

“I've had a few interactions with Taylor during the contest series, but I never experienced any negative vibes from her,” McMurry said. “Never in any of our interactions did she mention anything about what she was feeling, and I didn't get any impression that she felt slighted by the contest at all.”

What is most frustrating to these skateboarders was the transphobic animosity in Silverman’s Instagram post, which none of the skateboarders who talked to Motherboard anticipated.

“Taylor was super nice and encouraging the entire duration of the event. We all had a great time skating together,” Lily Goodale, a skateboarder from Austin, Texas who competed in the Cornerstone series, told Motherboard over Instagram direct messages. “I did think it was a little odd that Taylor’s style of skating won her second place. She likes to do freestyle flat ground tricks. Hardly any use of park and very, very, low-risk, low-difficulty tricks. She also did the same routine for qualifiers the day before, and then all three runs of finals.”

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“Taylor, in my opinion, has always given me weird vibes,” Kara Browder, a skateboarder from Michigan who also competed in the Cornerstone series, told Motherboard over Instagram direct messages. “I find myself actively avoiding her and the awkward conversation. I thought she was just kind of weird in an awkward way, not a hate-fueled person.”

Browder and Goodale especially resented Silverman tagging Shapiro and Pool, who they say don’t care about skateboarding as a sport or culture. Goodale and Browder specifically took issue with Silverman’s attitudes towards trans people, saying that to them, skateboarding is explicitly an inclusive space.

Goodale told Motherboard that they did take issue with how the contest was scored, especially in the women’s division, which they felt wasn’t paid as much attention to as the men’s division. There are definitely issues in the skateboarding scene, especially for women and other non-men, but Goodale said that what Silverman chose to do was bad for the community and potentially dangerous. Both said that Pool and Shapiro do not represent the values of skateboarding as a sport or community.

“In 2022, our skateboarding community is a becoming a more and more welcoming place full of queer and trans bodies who are competing, touring, going pro, and putting out revolutionary video parts,” they said. “Complaining that she deserved to win more than anyone else in the first place is embarrassing unsportsmanlike behavior. Combined with the trans exclusionary radical feminism, any ally to this community and its people should be downright disgusted by Taylor’s behavior.”

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“Piers Morgan put photos of the competitor Taylor was attacking on live TV, and said her full name, allowing anyone anywhere to be able to look her up, find her, target her with their hatred,” Goodale continued. “Taylor, Tim Pool, Ben Shapiro, and Piers Morgan are so completely deluded by privilege that allows them to actively endanger people's lives, and then go on with no repercussions.”

“I can see why she thinks skating is unfair for women, she's not wrong in that. But she went about it so entirely wrong, and in the most cowardly way in my opinion,” Browder said. Browder said that in Michigan, the scene is pretty tight-knit, and although there’s always tension with being a woman skater, over the years the scene has become more open and welcoming to all people. Browder hosts an all-girl’s session at her local park and has been advocating for female skaters in her local community in her five years as a skateboarder. She went on to say that posting on Instagram about losing to a transwoman was infuriating and cruel.

“She is appealing to people who don't care about women, skateboarding, or Taylor. She cried wolf to a group that ate her up and told her she was good and just for spreading hate,” Browder said. “We skate because it frees us. It allows us to fail 100 times just to land the trick once. We can see the beauty in perseverance. Most of the people I know came to skating in a dark time in their life and it saved them.”

Part of the benefit of skateboarding becoming an Olympic sport and becoming more popular over time is that it broadens the amount of people who have access to it. There are more skateboarders now, of all genders and races, taking what was once a sport dominated by white men and creating a more inclusive tapestry of skaters. The skaters who spoke to Motherboard said that while winning contests is well and good, making a career at skateboarding can’t really be about the money, especially since many skateboarders don’t make a lot of it.

“My friends who are amateur for teams or pro make somewhere close to about $1000/mo per sponsorship, depending on how they sell their marketing materials,” Browder said. “And at that point is it skating for love? I think so.”

“Those podium standing olympic athletes are still getting kicked out of skate spots in the streets,” McMurry said, but added that the sport has still grown exponentially, both in popularity, and in who gets to skate in the first place.

“Tons of new people are being exposed to skateboarding in some form every day, and there's enough room for everybody,” he said.