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World of Sport

28th Jul 2021

Commentator sparks outrage after ‘misgendering first openly non-binary Olympian’

Kieran Galpin

Non-binary athlete misgendered repeatedly

Alana Smith made history as the first-ever non-binary person to compete in the Olympics, and despite having their pronouns on their skateboard, commentators allegedly misgendered the athlete.

“Why do the announcers keep misgendering Alana Smith??? They literally have “they/them” on their skateboard,” one person commented online. “Olympic announcers keep misgendering Alana Smith… Alana literally has “they/them” on their skateboard.”

One user tweeted Tom Warwood, a BBC reporter, saying: “Marc Churchill also needs to be informed if it was him commentating. Alana Smith was constantly misgendered last night. An apology would be great.” Warwood responded:

“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.”

After the user thanked him for responding, Warwood once again said: “No problem. If you don’t come across a skater that much then you rely on information provided to you by the event organiser.

“Not saying it was missed out I’m sure it was there, but personally I didn’t see it, and the guys are back in Salford with limited resources.”

What is non-binary?

Sex is a biological factor that is determined at birth, however, gender is a combination of various societal constructions. Those that identify as non-binary, or gender-fluid, do not relate to the societal constructions of their gender. Therefore, instead of taking the standard he/him or she/her, these individuals prefer to be referred to by they/them.

Huge criticism in the past has surfaced because it is ‘grammatically incorrect and an annoyance to say’. However, when we don’t know the gender of someone, we naturally change our wording to they/them anyway. Furthermore, when talking about a group of people, we say they/them.

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