Outrage After Commentator Misgenders First Ever Openly Non-Binary Olympian
Unsuspecting commentators at the Olympics misgendered the first ‘non-binary’ athlete in history to compete at the games.
United States representative Alana Smith, 20, played at the skateboarding street competition on July 25 at the Tokyo Games. During the event, people took notice of the fact that Alana had her preferred pronouns written on her skateboard and on a pin on her shirt.
However, NBC Sports commentators Todd Harris and Paul Zitzer, and Marc Churchill and Ed Leigh for the BBC kept on misgendering Alana throughout the event.
Alana Smith with They/Them on their board at the Olympics pic.twitter.com/a5FtWqME8g
— Jen J Walker (@MsJenJWalker) July 26, 2021
Later on, trans journalist Britni de la Cretaz, took to social media to criticize the commentators.
“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 Game,” Britni wrote on Twitter.
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. https://t.co/7ane16AcRf
— Britni de la Cretaz (@britnidlc) July 26, 2021
Other people also criticized the commentators and TV stations in order to force them to start using the newly-invented pronouns.
However, their efforts seem to have fallen on deaf ears, as the commentators kept on using traditional pronouns.
In response to the attacks, BBC commentator Tim Warwood stated:
“It wasn’t myself commentating. I’m sure the boys would of course apologize to Alana. I hadn’t seen anything regarding gender and I’m 100% sure they hadn’t either. Hence the mistake.”
@Tim_Warwood Marc churchill also needs to be informed if it was him commentating. Alana Smith was constantly misgendered last night. An apology would be great.
— Sian OLo (@SadBuoys) July 26, 2021
The BBC has not yet commented on the situation, as opposed to NBC, who issued an apology:
“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.”
As a consequence, Stonewall, Europe’s largest LGBT+ charity, demanded ‘swift corrections’ from the media.
“All athletes deserve to be respected and celebrated as part of the games.”
Alana Smith (they/them), American pro-skater in the #Tokyo2020 Olympics has been repeatedly misgendered by journalists. We hope there will be swift corrections. All athletes deserve to be respected & celebrated as part of the games.#OlympicsForAll https://t.co/EO1JiHZOgT 💛🤍💜🖤
— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) July 27, 2021
In a previous interview with USA Skateboarding, Alana said:
“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.”
The athlete was not able to qualify for the medal round.
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