Canada's Quinn will become first openly trans, non-binary athlete to win Olympic medal
TORONTO -- Canada’s Quinn is set to become the first openly trans, non-binary Olympian to win an Olympic medal, as Canada’s soccer team looks to triumph over the Swedes in the women’s final on Friday.
“It's such a big deal. It's so important. It's such a wonderful thing for Quinn and for Team Canada,” Ravyn Wngz, a two-spirit LGBTQ2S+ advocate, told CTV News Channel on Tuesday. “This doesn't happen in a vacuum.”
Wngz, who sits on the Black Lives Matter Toronto steering committee and has African, Bermudian and Mohawk roots, says the achievement will be momentous for the LGBTQ2S+ community.
“This is a moment that is among many moments for trans folks in the games, for trans folks at large who are making a stand to say 'we are here, we've always been here,'” said Wngz. “It’s exciting.”
Regardless of Friday’s outcome, Quinn, a 25-year-old Torontonian midfielder who plays for professional U.S. soccer club OL Reign, is guaranteed to win an Olympic medal -- either silver or the coveted gold.
Last fall, Quinn came out as trans in a social media post, changed their pronouns to they/them and now only goes by one name. They told The Canadian Press at the time that their decision to come out was because they were "tired of being misgendered.”
Quinn also said they came out because they wanted to become a public, visible figure for younger people who may be "questioning their gender, exploring their gender.”
They played soccer for Duke University in North Carolina and became the highest-drafted Canadian in the history of the National Women's Soccer League, before becoming the third overall pick going to the Washington Spirit in 2018.
Quinn went on to play on Canada’s 2012 Olympic team, where they suffered a tough loss against the U.S. in London, and won bronze during the 2016 Games in Rio.
But they’re not the only openly trans athlete at this year's Games.
New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is also trans and was eliminated from the women's +87-kg category on Monday.
“I think as we move into a new and more understanding world, people are starting to realize that people like me are just people,” Hubbard told Reuters on Tuesday, adding she doesn’t see herself as any sort of icon and hopes her sport undergoes greater strides to become more inclusive.
TRANS KIDS IN SPORTS, WORKPLACES AT RISK: WNGZ
Allies and advocates have long noted the importance of representation of LGBTQ2S+ people in public spaces -- particularly in elected office, entertainment or in sports.
Recent research that suggests anti-trans hate is on the rise, with surveys conducted by TRANSPulse Canada suggesting many trans people in the country actively avoid some public spaces for fear of harassment or being outed. Other research suggests avoidance was worse among Indigenous trans, two-spirit and non-binary people, with 76 per cent of respondents avoiding three or more spaces, and only 12 per cent not avoiding any spaces.
Wngz says the achievements of athletes like Quinn and Hubbard will go a long way “for trans kids who have been struggling with sports.”
Community building and learning how to trust other people are crucial aspects that people learn from team sports, Wngz notes. But liberal think tank The Center For American Progress cites studies which show many trans and non-binary children feel their coming out will not be accepted in sports circles, highlighting the need for allies to ensure spaces are inclusive, non-judgmental and welcoming.
“Trans kids and trans adults miss out on that opportunity because there is so much fear. There are so [many] assumptions and there's a lack of understanding, trust and openness to trans kids and non-binary individuals to be able to move safely within our communities," said Wngz.
Wngz said Quinn’s ability to come out safely is not a luxury everyone has and “speaks to is a larger conversation about being safe in the workplace.”
“This speaks to the environment that Quinn is in that they feel safe enough to come forward with the fullness of their being, the fullness of their life,” she said. “Trans folks are everywhere... and folks will turn out more and show up in their full experience if environments were safer to do so.”
“When the most marginalized among us get freer, get safer and get more opportunities, we all get more opportunities.”
With files from CTVNews.ca's Brooke Taylor and The Canadian Press