As Canada's women's soccer team prepares for its gold medal match against Sweden this week in Tokyo, it also prepares to make history as the first Olympic team to have an openly transgender, non-binary athlete win a medal at the games.
Quinn, the 25-year-old midfielder, announced their non-binary identity on social media last September, adopting they/them pronouns and a singular name. Quinn said they'd been living openly as a transgender person with their loved ones, but this was their first time coming out publicly.
"I want to be visible to queer folks who don't see people like them on their feed. I know it saved my life years ago," they wrote. "I want to challenge cis folks ( if you don't know what cis means, that's probably you!!!) to be better allies."
Quinn is originally from Toronto and is playing for Canada's national team at the Olympics, though they play soccer professionally in the U.S.
According to the CBC, Quinn was the highest-drafted Canadian in National Women's Soccer League history when they were chosen by the Washington Spirit in 2018. They now play for the OL Reign based in Tacoma, Washington.
Some people have made transgender people participating in competitive athletics a hot-button political issue, prompting controversial legislation banning transgender students from school sports in many states. While Quinn's medal win will be historic, the handful of openly transgender athletes in the Olympics are not dominating their sports—which is the fear many people cite as their reasoning for creating or supporting such laws.
The International Olympic Committee established regulations for transgender athletes and it will be releasing an updated set of guidelines in the coming months, according to the CBC. While questions remain about how qualification rules will account for various gender identities and expressions, seeing trans people like Quinn succeed in sports provides visibility and representation that's long been missing.
As Quinn told CBC Sports on Monday, "Athletics is the most exciting part of my life and it brings me the most joy. If I can allow kids to play the sports they love, that's my legacy and that's what I'm here for."
Canada's soccer team narrowly beat out the favored U.S. women's team 0-1, taking the reigning champions out of gold medal contention. Now Canada and Sweden will battle it out for gold and silver as the U.S. hopes to bring home the bronze.
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