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With Quinn assured of a medal in Tokyo 2020 Olympics, transgenders in India feel inspired and joyous

Quinn, the Canadian footballer, who is assured of the first Olympic medal for a transgender, has set an example for others to follow (Pic: Courtesy washingtonpost.com)

The Olympics, which started in ancient times, have undergone a plethora of changes over the centuries. Keeping itself abreast with new social norms, now transgenders are participating and in Tokyo Olympics 2020, Canada’s Quinn has become all set to win the first medal for the community.

The Canadian football midfielder player has assured herself the recognition of becoming the first-ever transgender sportsperson winner of Olympic medal with Canada’s women team defeating in semi-final the United States on August 2 (Monday).

After winning the semi-final by 1-0, Quinn in a chat with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said: “[I’m] getting messages from young people saying they’ve never seen a trans person in sports before. Athletics is the most exciting part of my life. … If I can allow kids to play the sports they love, that’s my legacy and that’s what I’m here for.”

Sharing her joy at Quinn being assured of climbing the medal podium, Anjali Gopalan, Founder and Executive Director of Naz Foundation told India Narrative: “I am glad that this has finally happened. When we are talking about issues like inclusivity and equality, Quinn’s getting laurels for Canada has made it happen at the ground level.”

Shanthi Soundarajan

Being a trans sportsperson herself, for Shanthi Soundarajan, too it is a joyous occasion. “Really I am very happy as a sportsperson that Quinn is getting a medal. People like Quinn can be a role model for other players and athletes, and transgenders, eager to make a mark for themselves in the arena. It is a great moment for all the trans people, especially those who love sports and are themselves sportspersons.”

Soundarajan, who won 12 international medals for the country, was stripped of the silver medal she won in Doha Asian Games in 2006 after failing the sex verification test.

Interestingly, Quinn was the also a member of the Canadian team which won the bronze medal in Rio 2016 Olympics but the difference is that it became known that Quinn is a transgender in September last year.

Also read: Alisha Patel becomes Gujarat’s first trans-gender to receive ID card

Using the term non-binary to describe self, Quinn does not use either male or female pronouns and instead prefers they/them.

In a rather emotional post last year on Instagram Quinn wrote: “Coming out is HARD”, adding, “I know for me it’s something I’ll be doing over again for the rest of my life. As I’ve lived as an openly trans person with the people I love most for many years, I did always wonder when I’d come out publicly.”

Quinn will be part of the squad that will take on Sweden in the final of women’s football on Friday (August 6) and irrespective of the result, either a gold or silver is assured, marking a historic and momentous occasion for the Olympics as well as transgender community world over,

Talent not sexuality should be criteria

Talking about the importance of sports, Gopalan said: “Sports is about competition, with everyone given an equal chance to participate and give their best and with Quinn all set to get either the gold or silver, depending on the final result, it highlights the aspects of inclusiveness and equal opportunity, for which transgenders world over, including India, have been asking for. This is the way forward.”

Desirous of using sports to bring about inclusivity of transgenders, Gopalan observed: “In India too transgenders should be made to participate in sports and their choice in the team or an individual event must be based on pure talent and not because of their sexuality. After all, what has sexuality got to do with the ability to play a sport and win. And also, why must we lose out on talent which may be hidden among them and we need to tap it. Also this will make them feel a part of the social fabric making them feel at ease while giving a chance to others to accept transgenders as they are.”

Making a pertinent remark on motivating transgenders to join sports, Soundarajan said: “Government and sports authorities should encourage trans people to take up sports and provide them facility and a chance to display their talent. There are many who can bring laurels for the country. I would like to add that sports organisers, federations and organisers should have people onboard who empathise with transgenders and are willing to help and not discourage them.”

Also read: Covid aid: Govt announces Rs 1,500 assistance for transgenders

The Tokyo Games have at least 163 LGBTQ out athletes participating, which is more than three times the number in the Rio Games. Also the Games for the very first time has a Pride House — a more inclusive environment for Quinn and others — officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Since 2004, transgenders have been permitted to participate and their number has been increasing steadily.