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‘Stay On Board’ Chronicles Life of Trans Skateboarder Leo Baker (Review)

For two decades, Leo Baker was a professional skateboarder who competed professionally all around the world.

Co-directors Nicola Marsh and Giovanni Reda followed Baker from 2019 to 2021 during a period of intense personal turmoil. The film begins with what should have been a career highlight – Baker was announced to represent the USA on the first-ever Women’s Olympic Skateboarding Team.

Leo Baker reaches new heights in 'Stay On Board' (Netflix)
Leo Baker reaches new heights in ‘Stay On Board’ (Netflix)

The problem? Baker was experiencing extreme gender dysphoria, already identifying themselves as Leo and using they/them pronouns amongst friends and family. Being chosen for the Olympics was a life changing moment, but not in the way you might expect.

Every interview and comment that identified them as a woman became harder and harder to process or justify, when Leo was just starting to live authentically to themselves as a transgender man.

‘Stay On Board’ follows the aftermath of the decision to turn down the Olympics and the pain of publically coming out.

Clocking in at less than 75 minutes, Marsh and Reda do a phenomenal job of covering all the bases but remaining short and sweet. It never feels slight, despite the running time. While I’m not much of a sporty person and was not familiar with Leo’s story before watching, I instantly found myself inspired.

I wish that all of the right-wingers who manufacture hate on the daily across social media with misguided takedowns of transgender people would simply watch this film. But, we all know that won’t happen.

What the film delivers is a portrait of a person who stumbles when they’re afraid of losing everything only to find out that the peace of mind they’ve gained by being themselves is a bigger win than any medal.

From Nike endorsements to launching their own boards, Leo’s success should remind us all that the possibilities of the future are more important than a fear of rejection.

As featured in our recent August streaming preview, ‘Stay On Board: The Leo Baker Story’ is streaming now on Netflix.

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