Non-binary Olympic athlete Alana Smith has been misgendered by commentators

29 July 2021, 15:20

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Jazmin Duribe

By Jazmin Duribe

Alana Smith and Quinn are the first non-binary athletes to compete in the Olympics.

Several Olympic commentators are being called out for misgendering non-binary athletes.

On Sunday (July 25), Alana represented the US in the women's skateboarding street event at the Tokyo Games. Alana actually had their preferred pronouns, which are they/them, written on their skateboard and on a pin on their shirt throughout the competition.

Speaking about their gender identity, Alana, who didn't qualify for the medal round, has previously told USA Skateboarding: "I don't want to be known as a good female skateboarder. I just want to be known as a good skater, someone that made a difference. Gender shouldn’t matter."

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Non-binary Olympic athlete Alana Smith misgendered
Non-binary Olympic athlete Alana Smith misgendered. Picture: Patrick Smith/Getty Images, @MsJenJWalker via Twitter

Sadly, sports commentators Todd Harris and Paul Zitzer from NBC Sports and Marc Churchill and Ed Leigh from the BBC repeatedly misgendered Alana throughout their commentary.

CBC broadcaster Nigel Reed also misgendered soccer player Quinn, who is representing Canada, throughout the broadcast. He received backlash from viewers and issued an apology on Twitter. He tweeted: "Want to apologize sincerely to @TheQuinny5 and Canadian fans for my improper use of pronouns this morning. I know better but misspoke in the moment and meant no disrespect. I hope you can forgive my error, from which I will learn."

Trans sports journalist Britni de la Cretaz, who also uses they/them pronouns, slammed the commentators who had misgendered Alana and other athletes for failing to properly research their pronouns. They tweeted: "This is journalistic malpractice. No one should have to be misgendered on an international stage like this. Sports doesn’t know what to do with non-binary athletes. Shoutout to Alana Smith, the first openly non-binary athlete to represent the U.S. in an Olympic Games."

LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall also called on the commentators to apologise on Twitter: "We hope there will be swift corrections. All athletes deserve to be respected & celebrated as part of the games."

And many viewers have blasted the commentators for not respecting Alana's pronouns.

NBC has now issued an apology to Alana in a statement, which read: "NBC Sports is committed to – and understands the importance of – using correct pronouns for everyone across our platforms. While our commentators used the correct pronouns in our coverage, we streamed an international feed that was not produced by NBCUniversal which misgendered Olympian Alana Smith. We regret this error and apologize to Alana and our viewers."

BBC are yet to apologise, however, in response to a viewer demanding an apology, BBC commentator Tim Warwood tweeted: "It wasn’t myself commentating. I’m sure the boys would of course apologise to Alana. I hadn’t seen anything regarding gender and I’m 100% sure they hadn’t either. Hence the mistake."