Canadian soccer player Quinn is about to make history as the first transgender, non-binary athlete to win an Olympic medal.
Canada’s women’s soccer team takes on Sweden in the gold medal game Thursday at 8 p.m. MT (or Friday at 11 a.m. local time in Japan).
Quinn, a Canadian soccer star, is one of the three transgender and non-binary athletes competing at these games.
Edmontonian, Marni Panas, is an advocate and leader in the LGBTQ2 community, not to mention a transgender athlete herself. Having both competed in the male and female category, Panas understands the struggles that exist when it comes to trans athletes.
“It’s not a surprise, or it shouldn’t be a surprise, that the first trans and non-binary athlete to be guaranteed a medal, comes from Canada,” said Panas.
“We have led a lot of the conversation around inclusion and protection for trans people around the world.”
When it comes to backlash and equality with trans people in sports, this is where struggles and inequality is seen most, said Panas.
“The notion of fairness and the questions about fairness only impact trans women,” she said. “We have to know that trans people already start their race 10 meters behind everybody else because of the stigma and the discrimination that we experience through all areas of our life.”
And if the backlash isn’t enough, body shaming always seems to be an added issue.
Local organizations such as Soccer Alberta want to bring awareness to this issue and make sure any gender or race feel comfortable and accepted.
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“We want to include all athletes, of all backgrounds and genders,” said Lisa Grant, executive director of Alberta Soccer.
“I think it’s great for the women and the people to be brave and share that with everyone so they are role models to other athletes that are coming through the system.”
Pre-COVID, the organization made sure to have groups and programing for everyone and anyone. Grant said they are looking to get things back up and running soon.
“COVID put a stall on all the progressive programs but once we are back full operations that is a key element for Alberta Soccer,” she said.
Panas hopes the visibility of trans athletes like Quinn, who came out on Instagram last September, will help change perception.
“Let’s talk about the amazing achievements. Gender is part of it, but this is an incredible achievement. So very proud of our Team Canada,” said Panas.