Should the markers of a remarkable athlete be dictated by their sexual orientation? Should gender influence their sports career? If not, then, why do the athletes belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community still live in the fear that if they come out, they would be discriminated against and harassed in their own country?
These questions highlight the homophobic injustice that the athletes have to go through in their daily life. Who gets to decide what is the essence of being a woman? Being a woman does not come with the package deal that if one checks these boxes, then only they qualify as a woman. A transgender woman is not less of a woman in comparison to a cisgender heterosexual woman who bleeds monthly. But, when it comes to sports, a transgender woman or a transgender man undergoes a lot of difficulties while participating in the Olympics.
There are terms and conditions that they have to meet to participate in the games in their true identity. Several rules are stuffed into the backpacks of the transgender women participating in a women's game, burdening them with evergreen pressure and fear. For instance, they have to demonstrate lower testosterone levels 12 months before competing. And, they can qualify only after completing four years of their transition. But, these rules cannot be totally slashed out as the transgender women might have advantage over the cisgender woman in terms of muscle mass and other physical attributes. More research has to be initiated to understand this aspect of the athletes for their and the game's sake.
History of LGBTQIA+ Athletes in Olympics
Tony Scupham-Bilton, an LGBTQIA+ Olympic historian once stated that almost 170 athletes of the LGBTQIA+ community have participated in the Olympics dating back to 1928. Otto Peltzer, renowned as 'Otto the strange', was a young German runner who brought pride to the Weiman Republic by setting both national and world middle-distance track records in the 1920s. Whereas, it was Robert Dover who made history by becoming the first gay athlete to come out in 1988 before competing in the modern Olympic games. It was they who carved the path for many other LGBTQIA+ athletes and won the hearts of every sports-lover all while waving their rainbow flags.
After these historical achievements, the participation level of gay athletes rose manifold. Currently, lesbians make up the largest portion of known LGBT athletes including some of the greatest of all time. Babe Didrikson Zaharias, a professional golfer was named the AP Top Women Athlete of the Century as she also brought back two gold medals and a silver in track and field at the 1932 Olympic Games.
Tokyo Olympics 2020
Tokyo Olympics 2021 has become the headlines as the LGBTQIA+ Olympics ever. It is because of its accommodating and humble representation of the LGBTQIA+ community that it is the star of the show. The Tokyo Olympics 2021 has the maximum number of LGBTQIA+ athletes in human sports history.
From Dutee Chand of India to Quinn of Canada, at least 163 LGBTQIA+ athletes are competing in the Tokyo Olympics, making it more diverse than ever. Dutee Chand is an Indian professional sprinter and current national champion in the women's 100 metres event. Other LGBTQIA+ Olympic athletes include Robert Dover, Megan Rapinoe, Adam Rippon, etc. Amongst them, Nesthy Petecio became the first Filipino to win a silver medal in boxing. She even dedicated her achievement to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Every color of the LGBTQIA+ umbrella has its representatives taking part in the events with pride. This is also the first mixed gender sports game and hence, paving paths for more gender inclusiveness and fairness.
The increasing inclusiveness in the Olympic games indicates a positive change towards a world that accepts people for who they are. Being an international multi-sports event, the Olympics is a platform responsible for normalizing and promoting LGBTQIA+ athletes. It is due to its influence over the larger stage that allows it to induce such important changes in the global sports landscape.
The gender or sexuality of any athlete should not impact their sports career. They should not feel threatened to come out as it would influence their career in a certain way and put them under unrelenting pressure. The Tokyo Olympics 2021 have turned the tables for LGBTQIA+ athletes by legitimizing their growing presence.
Diversification in multi-sports events like Olympics, twhichis largely dominated by heterosexual rigidity colors the landscape in a more free-flowing glowing rainbow shade and opens up opportunities for a more equal world.
Saathi and Olympics:
Saathi has started a 16-days Olympics challenge of going plastic-free. For each day, it has introduced exciting activities and the winners at the end will receive some amazing gifts. Stay tuned with Saathi on their social media posts and follow the page for more.
1. Olympics 2021: Female Athletes and menstruation
2. Diverse Rainbows of LGBTQ+ Community
3. Saathi: 16 Days Plastic-Free Olympics Challenge
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