Just 172 days remain until France hosts the Summer Games in the famed City of Light. Questions also remain about whether all the colors of the Pride flag will be inclusively illuminated when the Olympics return to Paris for the first time in a century.
The Los Angeles Blade has compiled this brief guide to the major areas of interest, with the intent to preview what queer fans can expect from this year’s event:
- How many out LGBTQ athletes will be representing both their countries and their identities and orientations
- Restrictions on out transgender athletes and
- What the International Olympic Committee is saying — so far — about athletes displaying Pride flags and rainbow colors.
All of this is very subject to change before July 26, the opening day of the Summer Games.
At the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, 36 out athletes competed among the 2,871 entered into competition, as the Blade reported. If the LGBTQ athletes were counted as one team, they would have placed 12th in terms of medal count.
That set a record, although the numbers couldn’t compare to the last Summer Games, the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo — which were held in 2021 because of the pandemic. A historic showing in those Summer Games featured 186 out athletes, who would have ranked 11th in the medal tally if grouped together.
Sha’Carri Richardson, the fastest woman in the world, will represent Team USA at the Summer Games. As the Blade reported last August, Richardson set a world record for the 100m by crossing the finish line in 10.65 seconds. She identifies as bisexual.
Robbie Manson, the gay rower for New Zealand, announced he qualified for Paris last September. And, to the delight of many, has remained active on OnlyFans as well, reported Out. Manson came out in 2014.
Emma Twigg will also be competing as a rower in Paris, defending the Olympic gold medal she won in Tokyo in 2021, according to Stuff. Twigg is gay, married to her wife, Charlotte, and together they have a son, Tommy, born in 2022.
Campbell Harrison of Australia announced on Instagram in November that he qualified to compete in the category of rock climbing for the Summer Games. He came out as gay in 2021.
Yulimar Rojas holds a world record in triple jump and was an Olympic champion in Tokyo and has already qualified to represent Venezuela in track and field in Paris. Rojas told Infobae she dreams of being “the first to open the gap of 16 [meters,] it’s like another galaxy.”
Kadeisha Buchanan will lead Team Canada in their defense of their Gold Medal for Women’s Soccer in her third appearance at the Games this summer, as Humber News reported.
Quinn, the first transgender nonbinary Olympic Gold Medalist, competed as a midfielder in Canada’s soccer qualifier last September and is expected back on the pitch in Paris.
Sadly, it looks as though Australia and Chelsea soccer star Sam Kerr is likely to miss Paris, because of a ruptured ACL. She suffered the knee injury during training three weeks ago in Morocco, reports the official Olympics website.
There are several other LGBTQ athletes who are likely to qualify. Review the Official 2024 Olympics calendar of qualifiers by clicking here. The Blade will keep you posted as we learn more.
The International Olympic Committee decided after the last Summer Games to issue a new “Framework for Fairness” in November 2021, which basically punted decisions on inclusion to individual sports organizations. As the Blade reported in June 2022, the International Swimming Federation, once known as FINA and now World Aquatics, decided that trans athletes must have completed their medical transition before the age of 12 to avoid “unfair advantages.”
Laurel Hubbard, a weightlifter from New Zealand, was the first out trans athlete to compete at any Olympic Games. She made history in Tokyo, but her performance in the women’s +87kg category wasn’t what got her name into the record books. At 43, Hubbard was the oldest competitor at the 32nd Olympic Games, and after three unsuccessful lift attempts, her participation was reduced to an abduction that did not last more than 10 minutes. Given the new rules, she won’t be back in 2024.
Following World Aquatics’ lead, Union Cycliste Internationale — the organizers of World Cycling in Switzerland — the Disc Golf Pro Tour, World Athletics, the British Triathlon Federation and the International Rugby League have changed or adopted new “transgender participation policies” that effectively ban trans women from competing with cisgender women.
World Aquatics has since added a new “open category” in which anyone can compete, aimed at providing a way for trans swimmers to compete. But since only cisgender women can compete in the category that is designated for “women,” advocates for trans athletes consider that discriminatory. NCAA Division I Champion Lia Thomas has challenged World Aquatics at Court for Arbitration for Sport, as the Blade has reported.
As has been a tradition at almost every Olympics — the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, being the most memorable exception — Paris will have a Pride House. “A space that will be open to everyone, where it will be possible to celebrate its community and its pride,” according to the official website.
The Pride House will be set up at Parc de la Villette, “just a short distance from competition venues such as the La Chapelle Arena, Stade de France and even La Concorde,” the site explains.
Symbols of Pride
Beyond the Pride House and other “protected” locations in Paris, the International Olympic Committee has told the LGBTQ sports site Outsports that it is committed to ensuring all athletes “have equal opportunities to express themselves” by holding up Pride flags or other rainbow apparel in line with the recently revised wording to its Olympic Charter and updated guidelines for participants.
You can read the changes to the charter, enacted in October 2023, by clicking here. Unchanged is the fundamental principle that “the practice of sport is a human right.”
The IOC said assessments will continue to be made on a “case-by-case” basis, according to the report.
The 2024 Paralympic Games are set for Aug. 28 through Sept, 8, and LGBTQ+ athletes are again expected to compete. Click here for more information about those games.
Amber Glenn becomes first openly LGBTQ U.S. women’s figure skating champ
‘Being the first openly queer women’s champion is incredible’
Published4 days ago
onFebruary 1, 2024
Amber Glenn</strong (NBC Sports YouTube screenshot)
Bisexual and pansexual figure skater Amber Glenn won the U.S. women’s figure skating championship on Jan. 26, becoming the first queer woman to take the gold medal.
“Being the first openly queer women’s champion is incredible,” said Glenn in a post-competition interview with NBC Sports. She reflected on what’s changed since her coming out in 2019. “When I came out initially, I was terrified. I was scared it would affect my scores or something, but I didn’t care. It was worth it to see the amount of young people who felt more comfortable in their environments at the rink.”
To celebrate her historic victory, Glenn posed for photographers with the gold medal around her neck and the Progress Pride flag held high and proud above her shoulders.
Glenn, 24, won the silver medal in 2021 and the bronze last year. At the beginning of her free skate routine on Friday, she landed a complicated triple Axel, but then Glenn slipped-up two major jumps.
Defending champion Isabeau Levito also struggled, falling three times during her own routine. In the end, Glenn finished with 210.46 points to win the title. Silver medalist Josephine Lee scored 204.13 points and Levito’s 200.68 points earned her the bronze.
Given she had a rough go in this, her ninth competition, she told NBC she was in “utter shock” to have beaten Levito for the title.
“I know that both Isabeau and I are capable of so much more, but just the shock that all my hard work has paid off and the realization of what more I can do,” she said.
That hard work started with her recovery from a concussion and broken bone around her eye, suffered when she collided with another skater at the beginning of her season.
On Instagram, Glenn’s sponsor called the victory a win not just for her but “for the LGBTQ+ community.”
“I don’t have to try and hide the sight of me,” said Glenn. “Just because you have this aspect doesn’t mean you can’t be a top athlete.”
Amber Glenn claims her first U.S figure skating title in dramatic fashion | NBC Sports
Lia Thomas challenges trans swimming ban
Court of Arbitration for Sport confirms proceedings began last September
Published1 week ago
onJanuary 29, 2024
(YouTube screen capture)
The title says it all: “Thomas v. World Aquatics.” It might as well be “Thomas versus the world,” given the global pushback against transgender athletes. But this case, confirmed on Friday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, is specific to the organization that in June 2022 banned trans swimmers from competing in elite women’s competitions, as the Los Angeles Blade reported at the time.
Although only announced now, the CAS statement published Friday reveals arbitration proceedings began confidentially last September. News of the challenge was first published by the U.K. news outlet, The Telegraph.
According to the CAS, Thomas’ attorney — Carlos Sayao of the law firm Tyr, based in Toronto — conceded that “fair competition is a legitimate sporting objective and that some regulation of transgender women in swimming is appropriate.”
But then Tyr went on to argue why the CAS should declare the World Aquatics policy is “unlawful, invalid, and of no force and effect.”
“Ms. Thomas submits that the Challenged Provisions are invalid and unlawful as they discriminate against her contrary to the Olympic Charter, the World Aquatics Constitution, and Swiss law including the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; and that such discrimination cannot be justified as necessary, reasonable, or proportionate to achieve a legitimate sporting objective.”.
Sayao is himself a former elite-level competitive swimmer who won a silver medal for Canada at the World University Games in 2001 and also competed in the 2002 Commonwealth Games and the 2003 World Aquatics Championships.
He told The Telegraph the World Aquatics’ policy changes constituted a “trans ban.”
“She’s bringing the case for herself and other trans women to ensure that any rules for trans women’s participation in sport are fair, proportionate and grounded in human rights and in science,” Sayao stated to the Telegraph.
Thomas is now a law student at Drexel University who swam for the University of Pennsylvania women’s team after starting her gender transition in 2019.
She was crowned the first trans NCAA Division I individual champion after winning the 500-yard freestyle at the Swimming and Diving Championships in Atlanta in March 2022.
International Cricket Council bans trans players from women’s cricket
Sport is popular throughout South Asia
Published1 month ago
onDecember 28, 2023
The International Cricket Council has imposed a ban on transgender players from international women’s cricket if the player has gone through male puberty.
The elite council, in a statement, said it has decided after an extensive scientific review and a 9-month consultation, to “protect the integrity of the international women’s cricket matches, safety, fairness and inclusion.”
“The new policy is based on the following principles (in order of priority), protection of the integrity of the women’s game, safety, fairness and inclusion, and this means any male to female participants who have been through any form of male puberty will not be eligible to participate in the international women’s game regardless of any surgery or gender reassignment treatment they may have undertaken,” reads the ICC statement. “The review, which was led by the ICC Medical Advisory Committee chaired by Dr. Peter Harcourt, relates solely to gender eligibility for international women’s cricket, whilst gender eligibility at domestic level is a matter for each individual Member Board, which may be impacted by local legislation. The regulations will be reviewed within two years.”
Cricket is one of the biggest sports in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka with a fan base of 2.5 billion people around the world.
The ICC started the first women’s World Cup in 1973. The Board of Control for Cricket in India is the richest cricket board in the world, worth $2.25 billion. The BCCI in 2023 alone made $3.77 billion from the inaugural season of the Women’s Premier League. A huge population of trans people lives in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and other major countries that participate in international cricket matches, but the new policy change has created a blowback for the community.
Danielle McGahey, a trans cricketer from Australia, confirmed after the ban came into effect that her career as a cricketer is over.
“Following the ICC’s decision, it is with a very heavy heart that I must say that my international cricketing career is over. As quickly as it begun, it must now end,” said McGahey on her Instagram page. “While I hold my opinions on the ICC’s decision, they are irrelevant. What matters is the message being sent to millions of trans women today, a messaging say that we don’t belong.”
McGahey also said that she will not stop fighting for equality in sports.
She is the first transgender woman cricketer to take part in an official international match when she represented Canada in a T20 match against Brazil. She previously played for men’s club cricket in Melbourne before moving to Canada in 2020.
Although the ban has shattered many hopes and dreams, the ICC statement confirms each country can decide eligibility for trans cricketers in domestic games.
The Washington Blade reached out to India’s BCCI for reaction and response on the future of trans cricketers in India, but the board did not immediately respond.
The Blade also reached out to the Australian Cricket Board and South African Cricket Board but did not receive a comment. The Blade sought comment from Sports Minister Anurag Thakur and MP Rajiv Shukla, a former IPL chair, but both declined to respond.
“It is very unfortunate, and I am really disappointed with the decision of ICC, which is excluding transgender people because when we talk about human rights or legal rights, transgender people deserve to be in all parts of the society,” said Kalki Subramaniam, a trans activist, queer artist and motivational speaker based in India. “Especially in sports trans people deserve to play. It is a huge disappointment for us to know that ICC has banned transgender people. There is no need to do that and ICC should review their policy. While Indian army is considering (whether) to recruit transgender people, why would the ICC do the opposite.”
Kalki told the Blade the ICC statement does not justify the exclusion, especially trans women as it excludes trans women as categorized as women.
While talking to the Blade, Nilufer, a trans activist who represents the Mumbai-based Humsafar Trust, said there is constant discrimination happening in sports not only in India but around the world in athletics against trans women. She also said the ICC ban is discriminatory against the community, not only for trans Indian cricketers but for the entire world.
Ankush Kumar is a reporter who has covered many stories for Washington and Los Angeles Blades from Iran, India and Singapore. He recently reported for the Daily Beast. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is on Twitter at @mohitkopinion.