Canadian sporting icon Quinn is used to being the very best in whatever sport they undertake, and forging a new path for LGBTQIA+ athletes is the road less travelled they are currently walking.
Having represented Canada at U17, U20, U23, and senior level, Quinn is an integral part of the Canadian national team. As a midfielder, they have over 80 appearances for the senior team and a gold medal to their name.
That gold medal is one of the most important ever handed out, not just because of what it represents on the surface, but because of the milestone it created in the process.
Quinn winning the gold medal as part of the Canadian team at the Tokyo Olympics was the first time an openly transgender and non-binary player had won Olympic gold.
Having come out in 2020, Quinn became an icon and a trailblazer for LGBTQIA+ athletes, shining a greater focus on gender diversity in sport.
Taking on that role of icon and trailblazer was something that was never their intention, but something they’ve embraced.
“I wouldn’t say it was intentional by any means,” they told the The Inner Sanctum.
“I think for me, coming out and being my authentic self is just something that I needed to do.
“Being where I’m at in my football career, that just happened to cross paths with the timing of the Olympics and what not.
“I think it’s been a pretty surreal experience. Obviously it’s been a little overwhelming and heavy at times but I think more than that… the overwhelming support has been fantastic.
“I think we’re at a time where we’re seeing so much change in our communities and around the world and so I think it’s really exciting to see how quickly that change is happening.”
Coming out is always a daunting experience in so many ways, and some never do. One thing that makes the process of coming out easier is having a strong support network around you.
For Quinn, the support they have received from their teammates, coaching staff, and Canada Soccer made that process easier.
“I think there was a lot of uncertainty when I came out but it ended up being a great process,” they continued.
“I think kudos to the leadership that we have on our team and I think all of my teammates as well.
“We have a great culture and so we were able to kind of lead the way in that and be able to reshape our culture to make it more inclusive.
“So I think now we’re kind of an example of what a team and what a culture can be like and how that can be more inclusive.
“So I think that’s easy for me and it’s something that I’m grateful for every single day.”
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Their national team coach, Bev Priestman, is full of praise for them being the person they are.
“I think the incredibly brave thing that Quinn has done… [is] just being comfortable to be themselves,” Priestman said.
“I think, [in] the team environment for any young kid coming through in Canada or globally, you see that it’s a place where you can be yourself.
“I think Quinn’s brought that level of, I guess attention to people being who they are. You go and win a gold medal and that raises more spotlight on it.
“It’s fantastic. I’m proud to be a coach of a team that’s that open, inclusive, and is a place where anybody can be themselves. I think it’s massively important.”
Closer to home in Australia, Josh Cavallo made history in 2021 by coming out as gay, making him at the time the only openly gay male professional top-flight footballer.
While gender identity and sexuality are two different things, and it is important to note that distinction, there are lessons that can be learnt from Cavallo’s coming out in the future when it comes to an assigned male at birth player coming out as non-binary.
“I think unfortunately we see on the men’s side that there’s a little bit more hostility in terms of sexuality and I think with gender as well,” Quinn said.
“That’s unfortunately ingrained in some of our male sports environments, and so I think it’s really pushing to make environments more inclusive.
“I think education is a huge point that organisations can do in order to make the teams and to really maintain their high standards for how they want their team to operate and their culture to operate.
“I’m hoping we’re seeing with Josh feeling more comfortable to come out that hopefully that will just be a knock-on effect for others and that will create change.”
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