Media urged to help end transphobic sports discourse

Laurel Hubbard. (Scott Barbour/Getty)

A group of LGBT+ organisations have called on the media to cover queer Olympians “responsibly and respectfully”, and to help end the “transphobic discourse currently surrounding sports”.

GLAAD has teamed up with Athlete Ally and Pride House Tokyo to create a guide for journalists covering queer athletes taking part in this year’s Olympic Games.

In a joint statement, the groups said media outlets have an “unparalleled opportunity to provide fair and accurate press coverage” to queer athletes at the Tokyo Olympics.

The groups stressed that their guide will be particularly important this year as New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard becomes the first ever trans person to compete at the Olympic Games, noting that journalists can “help stem the tide of misinformation and transphobic discourse currently surrounding sports”.

Gon Matsunaka, president of Pride House Tokyo, called on the media to “cooperate in the dissemination of positive information based on accurate facts”, adding that they should do their jobs without resorting to “human rights violations” .

“We also hope that individuals using the internet and social media will understand the seriousness of the issues faced by transgender people, whether they are openly transgender or not, and the complexity of the matter, and keep to messages that are respectful and they are mindful of how to create a society where everyone can live in peace.”

Huge number of LGBT+ Olympic athletes shows you can ‘be your full self’

Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, noted a record number of LGBT+ athletes are set to compete at the Tokyo Olympics this year, describing the feat as proof that “competing as your authentic self can and does lead to success”.

Joanna Hoffman, director of communications at Athlete Ally, said the 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Games, added: “We are witnessing history in the making through these incredible out and proud Olympians and Paralympians, who are showing the world it is possible to be your full self and fulfilling your drams through the sport you love.”

Earlier this month, the Daily Mail showed why the media guide is necessary when it deadnamed New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who will become the first-ever out trans person to compete in the Olympics, in a headline.

Countless other media outlets have published inflammatory stories about Hubbard’s gender, conveniently ignoring that she qualified for the Olympics in line with pre-approved rules.

The guide is released just days before the Olympic Games kick off in Tokyo on Friday (23 July). An analysis by Outsports found that this year’s games will be the queerest in history, with at least 162 openly LGBT+ athletes taking part.