By Dirk Smith, M.Sc, SDL (He/Him)

Every May 17th is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia or better known as IDAHOBIT and it serves to “coordinate international events that raise awareness of LGBT rights violations and stimulate interest in LGBTQIA+ rights work worldwide.”

In regard to LGBTQIA athletes and sports, IDAHOBIT 2021 is just as important as ever as LGBTQIA+ rights, especially trans rights are under threat. Many states in the USA are trying to past anti-transgender legislation to ban trans athletes from participating in sports. These laws would limit or prohibit any kids who identify as transgender from participating in a sport with the gender division that aligns with their gender identity. Despite youth and high school sports being focused on participation and experience playing sports rather than sheer competition, these bills seek to undermine transgender rights by forcing transgender children to either participate in sports only under the gender division they were assigned at birth, or outright bans them altogether. These bills have drawn strong condemnation from LGTBQIA+ athlete activists and human rights activists all over, including Chris Mosier, Amazin LeThi, ACLU, and others. Unfortunately, it’s not limited to just sports either as a record of 133 bills have been introduced seeking to undermine trans rights in everything ranging from sports to healthcare.

In addition to the anti-trans legislation, it’s also important to discuss the existence of intersexism which is discrimination against people born with “any variation of sex characteristics” that do not align with the typical definitions of male or female. Intersex athletes who compete in women’s sports are often subjected to unfair discrimination and prejudice by organizations who are attempting to police women’s bodies and define gender roles. Athletes like Dutee Chand and Caster Semenya have experienced invasive examinations of their physical bodies and lifestyles by sports organizations, media, competitors, and others. With attempts to legislate intersex people out of sports. The most recent cases involving Caster Semenya have brought up a lot of discussion on this issue bring a lot of awareness to what being “intersex” actually means and whether or not it impacts sports performance.

Of course, this is only scratching the surface to the discussions and education happening for #IDAHOBIT. As part of the event today, our sports editor, Dirk Smith invited Amazin LeThi for a 30-minute Instagram Live discussion to talk about these issues + more. In case you missed it, catch it on our Facebook page.

Photo by Dirk Smith