Alana Smith was continually misgendered by Marc Churchill (pictured) and Ed Leigh on BBC (Picture: BBC)
Two members of the BBC’s Olympic commentary team have been criticised for repeatedly misgendering skateboarder Alana Smith, the first openly non-binary Olympian competing in Tokyo 2020.
Alana uses they/them pronouns and was knocked out of the Women’s Street Skateboarding semi-finals, representing Team USA.
Despite wearing a ‘pronoun pin’ and having ‘they/them’ drawn on their skateboard, commentators Ed Leigh and Marc Churchill continued to refer to them as ‘she’ and ‘her’.
‘Alana Smith is a great skater but she’s got no comp results from the last year,’ commentator and professional skater Marc said.
‘And she could potentially have focused on park. To come out here and Ollie [a skateboarding trick where the rider and board leap into the air without the use of the rider’s hands] a course…. maybe she’s carrying an injury.’
Ed added: ‘It’s getting away from her again. She’s gonna throw it. She certainly isn’t approaching the course gingerly.’
LGBTQ+ organisation Stonewall was among those to slam the coverage, posting on Twitter: ‘Alana Smith (they/them), American pro-skater in the #Tokyo2020 Olympics has been repeatedly misgendered by journalists. We hope there will be swift corrections. All athletes deserve to be respected & celebrated as part of the games.’
One viewer fumed: ‘Alana smith literally having they/them written on their skateboard VS the announcers constantly misgendering them live on the international Olympic stage FIGHT.’
‘Watching #Tokyo2020 women’s skateboarding on the BBC and hearing the commentators constantly misgender Alana Smith and not use they/them pronouns when it’s literally written on their board is so irritating and disappointing,’ complained another, which was echoed by one more angry critic, who posted: ‘@BBC @BBCSport @BBCOne please remind these commentators that Alana Smith’s pronouns are They/Them. They have consistently been misgendering them.’
Alana was full of love as they bowed out of Tokyo 2020 (Picture: Instagram)
After being knocked out of Tokyo 2020, Alana thanked fans for their support on what they called a ‘wild f**king ride’.
Alongside a photo of them skating around the Olympic park, they wrote: ‘My goal coming into this was to be happy and be a visual representation for humans like me. For the first time in my entire life, Im proud of the person I’ve worked to become.
‘I chose my happiness over medaling. Out of everything I’ve done, I wanted to walk out of this knowing I UNAPOLOGETICALLY was myself and was genuinely smiling. The feeling in my heart says I did that. Last night I had a moment on the balcony, I’m not religious or have anyone/anything I talk to. Last night I thanked whoever it was out there that gave me the chance to not leave this world the night I laid in the middle of the road.
‘I feel happy to be alive and feel like I’m meant to be here for possibly the first time in a extremely long time. On or off day, I walked out of this happy and alive… Thats all I have ever asked for.
‘Thank you to all the incredible humans that have supported me through so many waves of life. I can’t wait to skate for the love of it again, not only for a contest. Which is wild considering a contest helped me find my love for it again.’