Connect with us

Sports

LGBTQ+ groups fight over Trans Athletes competing is losing ground

Public opinion overwhelmingly supportive of the Equality Act is clearly skeptical of a one size fits all of all sports everywhere

Published

on

From left, Lia Thomas, Caitlyn Jenner and Michael Phelps. (Washington Blade photo montage)

WASHINGTON – In the wake of the NCAA changing its policies regarding transgender athletes and state legislatures advancing new legislation against trans inclusion in school sports, LGBTQ advocates continue the fight to ensure athletes can compete consistent with their gender identity, although they may be losing the battle.

As public polling has demonstrated, transgender athletes competing in sports — especially trans women in women’s sports — remains unpopular even among pro-transgender people. Key figures have emerged in recent days opposing transgender inclusion amid the focus on Lia Thomas, a recently transitioned swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania who has been smashing records in women’s aquatics.

Nonetheless, LGBTQ advocates charged with fighting for transgender rights are continuing the efforts. After a coalition of LGBTQ advocates sent a letter to the NCAA urging the organization to include a non-discrimination provision in its updated constitution, the Human Rights Campaign condemned the organization for refusing to keep the language, which appears to have the effect of allowing the sports division to decline to allow transgender athletes to compete consistent with their gender identity, and sent an action alert to supporters.

Joni Madison, interim president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement the NCAA “needs to show us their playbook for protecting LGBTQ+ and specifically transgender athletes from discrimination” as state legislatures advance legislation against transgender kids in sports.

“The NCAA has so far proven to be an unreliable ally to LGBTQ+ athletes across the country who depend upon the organization to protect them from discrimination and now they owe these athletes answers,” Madison said.

Instead of reaffirming non-discrimination protections, the NCAA announced a change in policy that goes in different directions but appears aimed at limiting participation of transgender women without taking full responsibility for it. On one hand, the NCAA delegates to the bodies governing individual sports the policies for transgender participation, but on the other hand requires transgender women to document having limited testosterone levels over a certain period of time.

The fight now continues in state legislatures as sports bills are among the latest crop of measures seeking to limit access for transgender people. After South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem made a push for legislation against transgender kids in sports at the start of the year, the state legislature responded by advancing such a measure. On Wednesday, a South Dakota House committee favorably reported out legislation already approved by wide margins in the Senate that would make biological sex the standard for sports in an attempt to limit transgender participation.

Sam Ames, director of advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project, said in a statement upon the committee vote the legislation “has nothing to do with fairness — and everything to do with South Dakota politicians using transgender youth as pawns on a political chessboard.

“Proponents of this blanket ban are hard-pressed to find examples of transgender students making South Dakota sports less fair or safe,” Ames said. “Research from The Trevor Project makes clear that many already opt out of sports due to fear of bullying and discrimination.”

Although the issue of transgender women in sports has emerged in recent years as conservative activists found a way to challenge LGBTQ rights in a way that was palatable to the public, the fervor peaked as Thomas made headlines for breaking records in the pool.

After having previously competed in men’s aquatics, Thomas — after she transitioned — began competing in women’s events and was beating her competitors by wide margins. In one event in December, Thomas came in first in the 1,650-yard freestyle and 38 seconds ahead of her closest competitor. The NCAA rules would appear to have the effect of barring Thomas from further competition.

Public polling, which has shown strong support for LGBTQ rights in general, continues to show the sentiment is against transgender women competing in sports, although the outcome of the poll can change considerably depending on the wording of the question. One Gallup poll last year found only 34 percent of those surveyed supported transgender athletes participating on teams consistent with their gender identity, while 62 percent said transgender people should have to compete with other athletes of their gender designated at birth.

One LGBTQ strategist, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, said the time may have come for LGBTQ advocates to admit a fait accompli if they want to seek broader civil rights protections in employment, housing and public accommodations with the Equality Act or other federal legislation.

“Advocates should just admit this is a very different issue than a trans person applying for a job or finding an apartment,” the strategist said. “Equality principles differ by situation — that’s why we have separate men’s and women’s sports in the first place. The same public opinion overwhelmingly supportive of the Equality Act is also clearly skeptical of a one size fits all federalization of all sports everywhere.”

Adding fuel to the fire are recent comments from key figures in athletics.

Caitlyn Jenner, who before she transitioned was an Olympic champion in the 1970s, has been among the more prominent voices to speak out against transgender women in sports and said on a recent appearance on Fox News it represents “a woke world gone wild.”

Jenner, who came out against transgender participation in sports during her unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign last year in the California recall election, said the NCAA “just kicked the can down the road” on the transgender sports issue and had choice words for Thomas.

“When you do transition and you do go through this, you have to take responsibility and you have to have integrity,” Jenner said. “I don’t know why she’s doing this.”

Michael Phelps, the decorated Olympic swimmer, also declined to support transgender athletes fully when asked about the issue during an interview on CNN, bringing up doping in sports in comparison.

“I don’t know what it looks like in the future,” Phelps said. “It’s hard. It’s very complicated and this is my sport, this has been my sport my whole entire career, and honestly the one thing I would love is everybody being able to compete on an even playing field.”

“I’m deeply troubled by what appears to be a devolving level of active, effective, committed, and equitable support for gender diverse student-athletes within the NCAA’s leadership”

To be sure, advocates for allowing transgender people to compete in sports consistent with their gender identity also have their supporters in the sports world, including tennis legend Billie Jean King. On Monday, Dorian Rhea Debussy, who’s non-binary and one of 54 facilitators in the NCAA Division III LGBTQ OneTeam program, resigned in protest over recent NCAA actions.

“I’m deeply troubled by what appears to be a devolving level of active, effective, committed, and equitable support for gender diverse student-athletes within the NCAA’s leadership,” Debussy said. “As a non-binary, trans-feminine person, I can no longer, in good conscience, maintain my affiliation with the NCAA.”

Arguably, schools complying with the new NCAA policy and states enacting anti-transgender laws would be violating Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education, especially after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County finding anti-transgender discrimination is a form of sex discrimination.

One federal court last year blocked a West Virginia state law against transgender participation in sports on that legal basis. No litigation, however, appears to be in the works at this time challenging colleges or the NCAA policy.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Sports

Out gay figure skater Colin Grafton shares his story and his dream

“I’m proud of my sexual orientation and I want to let other people know that they should be proud of every part of themselves too”

Published

on

Colin Grafton (Photo Credit: Colin Grafton/Instagram)

LONDON, UK — For a second year, Boston native and professional figure skater Colin Grafton is carving up the ice on British television’s “Dancing On Ice,” and now he’s doing it as his authentic self. 

“I told my closest friends. I told the people around me and I eventually told my parents,” Grafton, 32, recalled in an interview with PinkNews, in which he discussed coming out as gay. “I was maybe 24 when all that happened. I know there’s a lot of curiosity about my sexual orientation and my love life, but I never actually came out to the public,” said ITV personality. 

“I guess this is me announcing it to you guys.”

Grafton, who has been skating since he was 7, reflected on how watching Tara Lipinski win an Olympic gold medal at the 1998 Winter Games inspired him to pursue this career. But being a male figure skater was “really tough” in the 1990s and 2000s, he told PinkNewsUK.

“I remember feeling so nervous at various points in my childhood,” said Grafton. ”I’d be skating and the hockey players would come and bang on the side of the rink and shout words. That was something all male skaters had to deal with back then. It wasn’t easy but all of it made me stronger because I took it and focused everything on my sport.”

Grafton’s focus catapulted him to competing for Team USA, winning a bronze medal at the Junior U.S. championships in 2012, with his former partner Kylie Duarte. The memory of those who taunted him only fueled him to work harder. 

“When somebody tells you, you can’t do something, or somebody makes fun of you, just prove them wrong.”

Grafton ended his competitive career in 2013 and transitioned to professional skating, leading several European tours, and even becoming a coach. Then came the Covid pandemic.

“I feel very fortunate about the fact that I’ve been able to kind of dabble in so many different areas in the professional world, but tour life is quite hard, all the travel and being away for so long,” he said. “So, when ‘Dancing on Ice’ came up, I jumped on it.” That was in 2023. 

The program is broadcast Sunday nights on ITV’s Channel 3 from studios in Bovingdon, a village in Hertfordshire about an hour northwest of London. During that first season, Grafton made history being paired with “RuPaul Drag Race” star The Vivienne, the first drag performer on the show and the first time “Dancing On Ice” featured a same-sex team. They made it all the way to the finals, finishing in third place.

“Being a part of that representation, being a part of that team, it was just wonderful,” he said. “The support we got from everyone was just fantastic. If I’m honest, I didn’t really understand the impact that it would make in the end.”

And at the conclusion of last season, Grafton finally found time to read the many messages of encouragement from fans, as well as from viewers who wrote, “Seeing us helped them and gave them the courage to either come out or be themselves,” he said. “It was truly something.”

And now, as a regular on the show’s 16th season, Grafton has decided he wants everyone to know who he really is, and in doing so, show others they are not alone. 

“If I’m honest, I never really felt the need to announce it before, but the reason I am saying this now, is because I want to show that there is representation in any way I can”, the TV personality explains.

Along the way to self-acceptance, Grafton revealed he had a lot of “small steps and small triumphs” leading him to finally feel comfortable being himself in the public eye. “It was on my own terms,” he said, and feels “blessed” to have found support among friends. 

“It’s been a long journey but now I am proud of myself and I’m proud of my sexual orientation and I want to let other people know that they should be proud of every part of themselves too,” said Grafton, acknowledging he had concerns about coming out publicly. “I was really nervous of doing that to myself. It was like, ‘OK, if I come out as gay then people are going to think I’m this or that,’ when in reality the human sexuality spectrum is so vast and it’s just one small part of the person you are.”

But appearing in primetime on such a popular TV show means that Grafton is the target of speculation about his personal life. He admits to having “lived and breathed skating” until finally getting in a relationship at age 24, around the same time he decided to come out to friends and family.

While that lasted two and a half years, Grafton’s frequent travel commitments and work on the ice left him no other chance for love. “I just didn’t really have an opportunity”, he said. “You might meet someone while you’re on a contract for six months and after that, you’re both off in different directions, so, I wasn’t really able to hold down a relationship because of that.”

But now that London is his home, Grafton told PinkNewsUK he feels ready to settle down. His perfect match? Someone local and appreciative of his business obligations. 

“We live really crazy fast-paced lives as skaters,” he said. “Personally, I want to meet someone who is also fast-paced and able to keep up with that, but they don’t have to be a fellow skater. I just want someone who supports me and I can support them, too.”

“At the end of the day, we’re all just humans doing our thing on this planet and trying to find love.”

Until he does, Grafton said he is excited to keep skating on television.

“I absolutely love ‘Dancing on Ice.’ Every season that I’m asked to do it, I feel like I’m blessed and I feel very lucky to be able to keep doing the show. I would love to continue doing it while I can or while my body allows me to as well,” he said. And when it doesn’t? Grafton imagines he might try his hand at acting. 

“I think that’s what life is all about,” he said. “Learning new things and pushing yourself to do other things.”

Continue Reading

Sports

New LGBTQ+ & ally wrestlers promotion to debut in L.A.

“There will be amazing wrestlers that have been in the area before, facing new and fresh faces with pink and glitter everywhere”

Published

on

AFA/Los Angeles Blade graphic

CHATSWORTH — In 10 days, out gay pro wrestler Barbie Boi will bring 30 West Coast-based independent wrestling talent to this San Fernando Valley suburb. The event, organized by Alliance For All Wrestling, will be their first time together in the squared circle.

“There will be amazing wrestlers that have been in the area before, facing new and fresh faces with pink and glitter everywhere,” said Boi in a statement. “Not only does this show represent the LGBTQI+ community, but also brings together the straight allies that have supported and treated us equally, as one.”

Among the featured talent are Che Cabrera, Delilah Doom, Diego Valens, Dustin Daniels, Everly Rivera, G Sharpe, Maximilien Monclair, Mylo, Ray Rosas, Sandra Moon and Tyler Bateman. 

The Thursday, Feb. 29th event will be hosted by drag queen, performer and wrestling personality, Pollo Del Mar of San Francisco. 

“The last few years has seen an explosion in popularity for pro-wrestling produced and headlined by LGBTQI+ talents,” Del Mar said in the statement. “It’s bringing this new form of entertainment by and for our community to an area which hasn’t had access to it as consistently as it should. I’m anxious for everyone who attends to see the spectrum of characters and incredible wrestlers we have as queer people.”

Bell time is 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and will be sold at the door at the venue at 19801 Northoff Place in Chatsworth, Suite 110, which is also home to Millennium Pro Wrestling and the Millennium Wrestling Academy. 

AFA graphic

“The excitement is bringing something a little newer to the area. Seeing all different talent from all over coming to the L.A. area is very exciting and meaningful — especially the representation of the LGBTQI+ community, women and people of color,” said Boi.

Continue Reading

Sports

Super Bowl LVIII: Queers 14, MAGA haters two

Out gay cheerleader Jonathan Romero cheered with the 49ers Gold Rush team in his first Super Bowl. Romero joined the squad in 2022

Published

on

NFL/LA Blade graphic

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Even if you didn’t watch a second of the Super Bowl Sunday night, you probably already heard through friends or social media that the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers in overtime, 25-22. 

And you undoubtedly learned it was a repeat performance by quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his team, winning the Lombardi trophy two years in a row. And how could you have missed all the coverage of Taylor Swift and her tight end, er, her boyfriend, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce? 

But we kept our own LGBTQ centered scoreboard of the Big Game, awarding points for queer representation and allyship to Team Rainbow, while also making note of points scored by the haters and mad MAGA hatters whom we’ve dubbed Team Troglodyte. To us, that’s the score that really matters, and we are proud to report: WE WON!

Gay man on the field: One point for Team Rainbow

Jonathan Romero cheered with the 49ers Gold Rush team in his first Super Bowl. Romero joined the squad in 2022 and has been welcomed by his cheermates and fans. 

Despite the disappointing loss, Romero went partying after the big game with his squad at Caesars Palace. As the Los Angeles Blade has reported, Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies of the Los Angeles Rams paved the way in 2019 as the first male cheerleaders in Super Bowl history. 

LGBTQ ally Taylor Swift makes out and dances with Travis Kelce after win: Two points for Team Rainbow

Even if you’re turned-off by straight PDA, the MAGA crowd is even more disgusted by this pop star and her hunk, floating crazy conspiracy theories that their relationship is a plot to re-elect President Joe Biden. Progressives just aren’t that clever enough to engineer that level of musical and political machination. Swift and Kelce danced to her hits at the after-party, songs that have helped closeted fans come out. The Time Person of the Year has embraced LGBTQ rights, has been honored by GLAAD and appeared with drag performers. Maybe she can help the Chiefs acknowledge there are LGBTQ football fans?

Trump takes credit for Taylor Swift’s success because of course he did: One point for Team Troglodyte

Sigh. The truly sad part is how many people will believe this to be true. 

Anti-LGBTQ group funds billion dollar ‘He Gets Us’ Super Bowl ad campaign: One point for Team Troglodyte

A non-profit behind two commercials during the Super Bowl that rebrand Jesus for Gen Z is the main funder of a designated hate group opposing abortion and LGBTQ rights, Open Democracy reports. The report cites Christianity Today as first revealing that David Green, the billionaire co-founder of Hobby Lobby, was among the funders of the ads. They are reportedly produced by a group called The Signatry, a front for the Kansas-based Servant Foundation, which Open Democracy revealed is the main identifiable source of funding for the Alliance Defending Freedom, labeled an extremist anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And who else is in Kansas? Oh, right, the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. 

The SNL alumna takes a backseat to a talking cat in this hilarious commercial for Hellman’s Mayonnaise:

“RuPaul Drag Race” star Heidi N Closet joins Judge Judy, comedian Benito Skinner, Jury Duty’s Ronald Gladden, Grammy-winning singer Meghan Trainor and bestselling author and former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho in an ad for e.l.f., reported People.

And there were, reports the Advocate: Mountain Dew, NYX, Paramount+, Starry, Homes.com — featuring “Schitt’s Creek” star Dan Levy across three ads, for three points  — and this year, Volkswagen portrayed a lesbian wedding! 

Gay flag football in Super Bowl spotlightOne point for Team Rainbow

The NFL hosted a group of LGBTQ youth from Las Vegas at a flag football clinic during Super Bowl week at the NFL Experience. A variety of NFL front-office executives, board members of the National Gay Flag Football League, the 49ers cheerleaders and former NFL stars Tony Richardson and Kenny Stills, according to Outsports.

Final score: Team Rainbow 14, Team Troglodyte 2! 

Continue Reading

Sports

Your gay guide to enjoying Super Bowl LVIII

SF 49ers are playing the Kansas City Chiefs in Vegas. Even if you’re not a “sportsball” fan, there’s a lot LGBTQ+ folks can be excited about

Published

on

NFL/Los Angeles Blade graphic

Los Angeles Blade’s intrepid Sports Editor Dawn Ennis lays out the excitement for LGBTQ+ fans waiting to watch Super Bowl LVIII

LAS VEGAS, Nev.  — The countdown to the big day is down to just hours. And no, we’re not talking about Episode 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, that’s not until next Friday! No, the straights are super-hyped about the biggest game in 2024 sports, and believe it or not, there are many sports fans who also just happen to be LGBTQ+ who are excited to watch Super Bowl LVIII. 

That’s 58 to those of you who didn’t pay attention to Roman Numerals in grade school.

And yes, besides the commercials, the halftime show, the nachos and the adult beverages, there’s plenty of queer content to enjoy. So, whether you’re just watching for the tight pants, wondering which of the cheerleaders is secretly Sapphic, or perhaps unaware that the NFL actually does support the LGBTQ+ community and has had players come out, grab a beer and read on. 

Who’s Playing and When? 

The San Francisco 49ers are playing the Kansas City Chiefs in Las Vegas on CBS and Paramount+ with the pre-game coverage starting at 6 p.m. EST and kickoff at 6:30 p.m. Reba McEntire (No, not Taylor Swift) is singing the National Anthem.

What About the Halftime Show?

The Apple Music Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show begins at approximately 8 p.m. EST and Usher (No, not Taylor Swift) is performing. 

Meet the 49ers’ Out Gay Male Cheerleader

Jonathan Romero will be cheering with the 49ers Gold Rush team in his first Super Bowl. As the Los Angeles Blade has reported, Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies of the LA Rams paved the way in 2019 as the first male cheerleaders in Super Bowl history, and Peron has reportedly been by Romero’s side all this week leading up to his debut. Romero joined the squad in 2022.

So Does the NFL Really Welcome Us? 

The answer is a resounding yes, as evidenced this past week at “A Night With Pride.” For the third year in a row, GLAAD teamed up with the league and big-name sponsors for a glittery gala, this time at Caesars Palace, headlined by out singer Lance Bass and performer VINCINT. Special guests included both Romero and Peron, out gay defensive lineman Carl Nassib who retired recently, former NFL player RK Russell, Jacksonville Jaguars strength coach Kevin Maxen, sportswriter LZ Granderson, actor Angelica Ross, pro wrestler Anthony Bowens, pro snowboarder Brittany Gilman as well as GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis and many more stars.

So how inclusive is the NFL? I mean, really?

The LGBTQ+ sports site Outsports recently chronicled 62 current or recent NFL players, 13 owners and nine head coaches who support gay and bi athletes and the LGBTQ community, and 101 efforts at inclusion by the NFL, its teams and its players. It was ten years ago this week that Michael Sam came out as gay. Fast-forward to 2021 when Nassib came out as the first out gay active football player in NFL history. Times have changed.

Has anyone gay ever played in a Super Bowl?

The answer is yes, but none came out until after they retired. The most recent was Ryan O’Callaghan, an offensive lineman with the New England Patriots in the 2007 season. O’Callaghan also played with the Kansas City Chiefs and in 2022 predicted more players will come out. As Outsports has reported, two gay men played for the 49ers, although neither played in a Super Bowl. Running back Dave Kopay was a 49er from 1964-67 and offensive tackle Kwame Harris from 2003-2007. Those who preceded O’Callaghan were Jerry Smith (1972), Roy Simmons (1983) and Esera Tuaolo (1998).

Has anyone LGBTQ+ ever coached in a Super Bowl?

Yes again! Katie Sowers was the first out LGBTQ+ coach in Super Bowl history. She was with the 49ers back then. 

Do either the Chiefs or the 49ers support LGBTQ+ fans? 

Check out 49ers Pride! As the Blade has reported, they have led the league in representation and the team has supported them with gender-neutral fan gear. As for the Chiefs, well, we couldn’t find anything on their website that relates to LGBTQ+. 

Whomever you root for, have fun, and celebrate safely!

Continue Reading

Sports

What’s the Queer quotient for the 2024 Summer Olympics?

With less than six months until Paris, we look at everything from transgender competition to LGBTQ+ representation and Pride flags

Published

on

IOC Paris 2024/Los Angeles Blade graphic

PARIS — 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. 

Looking Back

At the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, 36 out athletes competed among the 2,871 entered into competition, as the Los Angeles 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. 

Looking Ahead

Sha’Carri Richardson (Screenshot/YouTube NBC Sports)

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 out 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 trans 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. 

Australia and Chelsea soccer star Sam Kerr. (Photo Credit: Kerr/Instagram)

There are several other out 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. 

Transgender Competitors

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 transgender 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.

Pride House

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. 

Paralympics

The 2024 Paralympic Games are set for Aug. 28 through Sept, 8, and out LGBTQ+ athletes are again expected to compete. Click here for more information about those games.

Continue Reading

Sports

Amber Glenn: 1st out LGBTQ+ USA women’s figure skating champ

Glenn posed for photographers with the gold medal around her neck and the Progress Pride flag held high and proud above her shoulders

Published

on

After Amber Glenn struggled in the second half of her free skate, Isabeau Levito left a golden opportunity to repeat as national champion slip through her fingers with a tough free skate of her own. With a total score of 210.46, Glenn claimed her first national title at the 2024 U.S. Figure Skating Championships after a decade of trying. Glenn seen here being interviewed by NBC Sports. (Screenshot/YouTube NBC Sports)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Out bisexual and pansexual figure skater Amber Glenn won the U.S. women’s figure skating championship Friday, 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

Continue Reading

Sports

Nonbinary runner to NYC Marathon: Pay me

Calamia competed in the New York City Marathon on Nov. 5, 2023, eager to follow in the footsteps of the first nonbinary winner Jake Caswell

Published

on

The founder of non-binary run club (nbrc) & 2 Hot 4 Hoodies. Cal Calamia, is a queer trans poet, runner, high school health educator, and inclusivity activist originally from the Chicagoland area and resides in San Francisco with their partner. (Photo Credit: Cal Calamia)

SAN FRANCISCO — All Cal Calamia is asking for is what was promised: $5,000 in prize money for being the top nonbinary finisher in last fall’s New York City Marathon. According to Calamia, organizers claim they don’t have to pay them anything because they changed the rules for eligibility before the race, but after they registered.

Calamia, an avid runner and cross country coach for a high school in San Francisco, uses both they/them and he/him pronouns. They started a medical transition in 2019, taking testosterone. 

Last October, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency informed Calamia via email that they granted him a therapeutic use exemption to compete in male, nonbinary and open categories at U.S.A. Track and Field-governed events, all of which take place in the United States.

As the Washington Post reported at that time, Calamia is believed to be the first runner granted an exemption to compete in the nonbinary category, changing the sport and scoring a victory for nonbinary and transgender athletes. Before this, gender-affirming hormone treatments traditionally resulted in a ban of those runners from the sport.

“This approval represents a turning point in conversations about trans athletes,” Calamia told the Post. “To have this approval means I’m allowed to be part of this conversation without being sidelined.”

So instead of watching from the sidelines, Calamia competed in the New York City Marathon on Nov. 5, 2023, eager for the chance to follow in the footsteps of the first nonbinary category winner, Jake Caswell, who won in 2022 and as the Los Angeles Blade reported, was awarded $5,000.

“I was so excited to see this,” Calamia posted on Instagram ten days ago. “I registered for the 2023 race for a chance to place in the top five and win some money for once! For reference, top men and women win $100,000.

The results page shows Calamia finished first in the nonbinary category, 457th overall, with a time of 2 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds, outpacing second-place finisher and 2022 nonbinary champion Caswell by more than six minutes. 

After winning, Calamia reached out to the race organizers, the New York Road Runners, about the $5,000, and heard nothing, they said.

“NYRR did not follow up about it, so I reached out and inquired about the prize money. They responded that I am not eligible to win the money because I have not raced in 6 NYRR races in the last year. I had never heard of this and NYRR confirmed that they added this stipulation to the nonbinary prize money following my registration for the race.

“I asked that they honor the policy as it stood when I registered and they refused. Put blanky, The New York City Marathon does not in fact award top nonbinary finishers because I won and they won’t pay me. Instead of just getting to enjoy winning like everyone else when they win, I just feel shattered.

Calamia said they exchanged multiple emails with the NYRR and even had a Zoom call with them. “Unfortunately, they have considered this case closed,” said Calamia. 

The Los Angeles Blade has reached out to the NYRR for comment and have not received a response as of press time.

Continue Reading

Sports

Lia Thomas challenges transgender swimming ban

“Discrimination cannot be justified as necessary, reasonable, or proportionate to achieve a legitimate sporting objective”

Published

on

In March 2022, University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas became the first transgender Division I athlete to win an NCAA championship. In her first television appearance, Thomas discusses her experience with ESPN's Katie Barnes. (Screenshot/YouTube ESPN)

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — 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.

Related

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’s 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.

Continue Reading

Sports

Trans pro-golfer receives death threats following women’s tour

“It’s always interesting how no one gets angry,” says Hailey Davidson, “until there is any form of success”

Published

on

Out transgender pro golfer Hailey Davidson being interviewed by Good Morning Britain. (Screenshot/YouTube Good Morning Britain)

HOWIE-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. — Out transgender pro golfer Hailey Davidson has agreed to undergo further hormone testing following a worrisome backlash to her win this month at the NXXT Women’s Classic in this suburb of Orlando, Fla. Davidson is believed to be the first out transgender golfer to win a professional women’s event.

Davidson, 31, told GolfWeek that she’s received between five and 10 death threats since her victory and has deleted her social media account on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter.

“It comes with the territory, I suppose,” she said. “No one really cares when I’m not playing well, but as soon as you play well, the whole world ends, and it’s ‘I’m destroying women’s golf now.’” Davidson added that “generally a lot of the hate comes from people who aren’t playing.”

The Scottish-born Floridian said she’s trying to take the negative attention in stride and not let it bother her: “Someone who is at home really frustrated with themselves trying to take it out on me. If I don’t laugh, I’m going to be miserable.”

Instead of misery, however, Davidson posted on Instagram her elation at taking home the NXXT trophy, calling it a surprise. 

She now tops the tour’s points list. But given international media reports about the so-called furor over her victory from the likes of Piers Morgan have misled readers into thinking she’s just a few strokes away from competing in the LPGA, Davidson said she welcomes both the additional hormone test and a newly-announced survey of fellow golfers, “to cool the fire down a little.”

Stuart McKinnon, CEO of the NXXT, formerly the East Coast Women’s Pro Golf Tour, announced the anonymous poll in a statement Monday as he addressed Davidson’s victory.

“The recent discussions surrounding Hailey Davidson’s participation and success on our tour have highlighted a range of viewpoints,” McKinnon wrote. “The NXXT Women’s Pro Tour acknowledges these perspectives while emphasizing that our policies and decisions are guided by the frameworks set by the LPGA and USGA. Our primary focus remains on supporting our players’ aspirations and contributing to their journey towards the LPGA.”

“At this point, we’re trying anything to see if we can cool the fire down a little,” Davidson told GolfWeek. “I think we forget that people are actually humans.”

She was three shots back with two to play and wound up clinching her first title in 2 ½ years by beating 24 players in the three-round event earlier this week. Davidson won the trophy after a playoff against Lauren Miller. 

The victory bolstered her chances of earning exemptions on the Epson Tour, as the top five earners on the NXXT points list earn two exemptions into Epson Tour fields.

However, as GolfWeek reported, to those unfamiliar with how the tour works, Davidson might appear to be closing-in on those exemptions, but she’s very far off the fairway, so to speak. For players to receive exemptions, the NXXT must have a minimum of 10 events with an average of 40 players, and so far, the NXXT fields are well short of that number.

She said she’s not particularly worried about her place on the NXXT going forward, given that she meets the requirements of both the LPGA’s and USGA’s gender policies.

On Sept. 24, 2015 – a date GolfWeek reported is tattooed on her right forearm – Davidson began her medical transition, and in January 2021 she underwent gender confirmation surgery, which is required under the LPGA’s Gender Policy.

That same year, 2021, Davidson became the second transgender player to compete in LPGA Q-School, but ultimately did not make the cut. 

This week, Davidson told GolfWeek she already took the required additional testosterone test and expects to get the results back on Monday.

The golfer told SkyNews while she supports transgender inclusion in sports, she does believe trans participation in sports should be regulated. 

“Trans athletes shouldn’t be banned, but at the same time, there needs to be regulations in place because it shouldn’t just be a free for all,” she said.

“I recognize that I did have an unfair advantage a few years ago,” Davidson told SkyNews. “I’ve been transitioning for nine years. I’ve been on hormones for almost nine years, I had surgery… coming up almost on three years. I’ve lost just over 50 miles an hour swing speed.”

Her dream is to earn a place on the LPGA Tour and compete at the Scottish Open, but right now she dismisses those who think she’s two strokes away from those goals. 

“I am so incredibly far from the LPGA Tour with a lot of work to be done to possibly earn my way there one day,” Davidson posted on her Instagram.

Transgender Golfer Hailey Davidson’s Safety Concerns After US Tournament Win | Good Morning Britain:

Continue Reading

Sports

Out gay World Champion pole vaulter Shawn Barber dead at 29

A dual citizen of the U.S. & Canada, the Olympian, World Champion and three-time NCAA Champion had been dealing with an ongoing illness

Published

on

Shawn Barber (Photo Credit University of Akron Athletics, Track & Field)

KINGWOOD, Texas — Olympian, World Champion and three-time NCAA Champion Shawn Barber died Wednesday from medical complications. He was 29. 

Barber came out as gay in a post on Facebook in April 2017, one year after a sexual encounter with a woman nearly cost him his chance to compete in the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Although no cause of death has been released, his alma mater, the University of Akron, announced Thursday that he had fallen ill and had been struggling with poor health “for some time.” 

“More than just an incredible athlete, Shawn was such a good-hearted person that always put others ahead of himself,” Barber’s agent, Paul Doyle, told the Associated Press. “It’s tragic to lose such a good person at such a young age.”

Doyle shared photos of Barber on his Instagram page, captioning them “A friend that will never be forgotten” and “He will be greatly missed.”

Other tributes shared on social media include those from Athletics Canada and World Athletics.  

Former Akron men’s and women’s track and field and cross country coach Dennis Mitchell described Barber to the Akron Beacon Journal as “extremely smart” and “the nicest guy ever.”

Barber’s best vault was 19-8¼ or 6.0 meters on Jan. 15, 2016, in Reno, Nevada. That remains the record in Canada, the country which Barber represented in competitions all around the world. 

His untimely death is being mourned across the globe. 

Barber was born in 1994 in Las Cruces, N.M. He held dual Canadian-American citizenship as his father, George, a former pole vaulter himself and also Shawn’s former coach, was born in Kincardine, Ontario. The Barbers split time between Texas and Toronto, Canada.

At the 2015 world championships in Beijing, China, Barber took home a gold medal with a mark of 5.9 meters, earning Canada its first athletics world title in 12 years and its first-ever world’s pole vault medal.

Just a month earlier, Barber won his third of five Canadian titles and Pan American Games gold medals in Toronto.

Also that year, he won the NCAA outdoor title for his university’s team, the Zips, adding to the second of back-to-back indoor titles that season.

Barber was also awarded bronze and silver medals at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games, and he last competed in 2020. 

His athletic career was nearly ended when Barber tested positive for traces of cocaine in a drug test before the 2016 Rio Olympics. Barber called the positive test “a complete shock.”

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport wanted to ban him from competition for four years, including the Olympics.

But according to a report by the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada, Barber ingested the cocaine during a sexual encounter with a woman, the night before he won a Canadian national title in Edmonton.

The woman testified she secretly consumed cocaine before she met Barber, and then again in the bathroom of his hotel room. At his hearing, she said he could not have known she’d used the drug.

The court ruled that Barber had unknowingly ingested the drug through kissing. After it was determined he inadvertently ingested the banned substance, Barber was allowed to compete in Rio and instead stripped him of his 2016 national title.

“This has been a learning experience for Shawn, he is a young athlete learning how to compete on the field of play, and prepare away from it,” Athletics Canada said in a statement at the time.

Barber finished 10th at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. 

The following year, Barber posted on Facebook: “Gay and proud! Thank you to my parents for being such a great support. I continue to grow as a person and have a great support group. My parents are my greatest support and have helped me through a lot recently. To my friends, you are always my friends and I love you too!”

Barber is survived by his mother, father and brother.

Continue Reading

Popular