Episode 116: To Be Seen

Featuring Photographer, Climber, & Writer Nikki Smith

In partnership with Mountain Hardwear

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Nikki Smith likes to say that she is a climber, photographer, and writer who just happens to be transgender. Professor Brené Brown inadvertently changed Nikki’s course when she wrote about midlife, “it’s time to show up and be seen.” It was the inspiration Nikki needed to step into herself, and it’s since served as a reminder of what she wants to do for others.

We say “step into” because Nikki has always been Nikki, and she’s carried a curious, creative, empathetic spirit with her throughout her life.

This conversation with Nikki Smith was made in partnership with Mountain Hardwear. If you’re in the San Francisco area, climb with Nikki and the Mountain Hardwear team at Touchstone Climbing Gym Saturday, June 29th 7-10pm.

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Featured in this episode: Nikki Smith – Photographer, climber, writer, designer, and Mountain Hardwear Ambassador

Hosted by Gale Straub

Music is by Lee Rosevere, Kai Engel, and Josh Woodward using CC by A license. 

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • All the different parts of Nikki’s identity that make up who she is
  • Her creative roots in photography, climbing, writing, and cooking
  • Why so much of Nikki’s work is grounded in connection to others
  • What drew her to climbing and why it became an unhealthy coping mechanism
  • Why ‘realization’ vs ‘transition’ is the word Nikki would choose in coming out as trans
  • How a quote from Brené Brown inspired Nikki to “show up and be seen”
  • How her story isn’t entirely her own, and why she’ll keep sharing it as long as it’s beneficial for others
  • Nikki’s latest creative goals

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor Websites & Promotions

Nonprofits and Organizations Mentioned at the End of the Episode


Nikki near her home in Utah

Nikki Smith; Photo by Laura Hughes
Nikki at the bouldering spot; Photo by Laura Hughes

Nikki Smith; photo by Laura Hughes

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