On the week the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics are set to kick off, GLAAD, along with Athlete Ally and Pride House Tokyo, is releasing a guide for journalists covering the events. While Tokyo 2020 is taking place a year late due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is also the first Olympic Games for which out transgender athletes have fully qualified under standards that have been in place since 2004. There are also a historic number of out LGBTQ athletes overall; this year over 185 LGBTQ athletes will participate, up from 56 in 2016 and just 23 in 2012.
Set against a backdrop of growing misinformed and harmful political attacks that seek to shut transgender people out of sports, the emergence of trans athletes at the Olympics provides an unparalleled opportunity to provide fair and accurate press coverage and to show the world that transgender people—and LGBTQ people in general—are as able to excel and bring pride to their home countries as any other athlete at the Games. Journalists are uniquely positioned to help stem the tide of misinformation and transphobic discourse currently surrounding sports, and the guide will help them do so by offering history, context, terminology, and best practices.
Journalists already in Tokyo will be able to access the guide via QR code on placards and postcards distributed at the Games and at Pride House Tokyo, a permanent center and hub for LGBTQ information and community that is part of the official Olympics program. The Pride House Tokyo team will also provide a Japanese translation of the guide.
A brief sampling of what the guide offers:
- Bios of select out LGBTQ athletes participating at the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics
- Terminology basics and best practices for covering transgender athletes
- Historical context on LGBTQ athletes at the Olympics over time
- How race and colonialism intersect with LGBTQ equality at the Games
- Japanese context: local LGBTQ organizations and out athletes, and the fight for equality in Japan
- Background on media misinformation, U.S. anti-LGBTQ groups, and politics
GLAAD has published media guides for Olympic events in the past, such as the 2014 Sochi Olympics Playbook.
For more on U.S. sports policy context regarding transgender athletes, read GLAAD’s guide to covering anti-trans state legislation in the 2021 session here.