An Increase in LGBTQ Athletes Who Compete in the Tokyo Paralympics

In the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, there are about 30 athletes that are competing and identify as LGBTQ. This is a new record-breaking number for the LGBTQ representation in the Paralympics Games. The number is more than double the representation that was seen in the 2016 Paralympics that were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

A swimmer at the Tokyo Paralympics
An Increase in LGBTQ Athletes Who Compete in the Tokyo Paralympics

LGBTQ Athletes in the Paralympics

The Paralympics recently began in Tokyo and more than 4,400 athletes are competing in the games. Outsports, the SB Nation blog, conducts similar counts of LGBTQ participants in the Olympic Games, and former Paralympians assisted with the process of making a list of such athletes for this month in Tokyo.

Some athletes include US gold medalist in goalball, Asya Miller; Laurie Williams and Robyn Love who are representing Team Great Britain in engaged wheelchair basketball; and 4-time gold medalist Edênia Garcia, who represents Brazil.

There’s Still a Lack of Participation

While there has been an improvement in the number of LGBTQ athletes in both the Olympics and the Paralympics this year, researchers say that the representation should have been higher from the LGBTQ community.

LGBTQ Paralympic athlete, Laurie Williams, representing Team Great Britain.
An Increase in LGBTQ Athletes Who Compete in the Tokyo Paralympics

During the Tokyo Summer Olympics, there were at least 168 LGBTQ athletes like US women’s basketball team gold medalist Brittney Griner; Tom Daley, a diver for Team Britain; and soccer star Quinn from Team Canada.

Out of 11,000 Olympians that have and will compete this year, less than 2% identify as LGBTQ. According to Katie Schwighorfer, who is an adjunct faculty member at Dickinson College and also studies inclusion in sports, the lapse in representation can be due to the sports culture that has yet to welcome trans and queer athletes.

Many Paralympians that identify as LGBTQ have to deal with negative attitudes towards trans and queer people. Some have mentioned that being part of this community and being disabled is a double challenge. However, it can also inspire change when competing in front of an international audience.