“You’re Just Drawing a Line in the Sand”: Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Persons’ Experiences of Sport and Physical Activity

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In the last decade, transgender and gender non-conforming persons have gained more visibility in mainstream society and within sport. Despite increases in representation, sport is still primarily organized around the gender binary where men and women—who are expected to have different and distinct bodies—are separated. Because of mainstream binary assumptions about bodies, harmful language, discrimination, and ignorance, these environments have been stigmatizing for and exclusionary of trans and gender non-conforming persons. The current body of literature on trans and gender non-conforming persons in the context of recreational sport and physical activity is relatively small, particularly within the Canadian context. My study sought to address this gap by exploring the experiences of trans and gender non-conforming persons within sport and physical activity in Calgary, Alberta at the recreational level. Six trans and gender non-conforming persons participated in one-on-one semi-structured interviews. Interview transcripts were analyzed using critical discourse analysis where six themes emerged: (1) reasons for participation; (2) the safety of individualized activities; (3) the power of allies; (4) the body; (5) changerooms; and, (6) reflections on policy. The analysis revealed the interconnectedness of the six main themes, as well as how discursively constructed gender norms are reproduced and maintained in sport and physical activity environments. The knowledge gained from this project will aid in the creation of a guide outlining policy and programming recommendations to improve trans inclusion and will be sent to the City of Calgary Recreation Department as well as the Active Living Department at the University of Calgary. Future research should be led by trans and gender non-conforming persons and focus on sport and physical activity at the recreational level outside of Calgary.
Transgender, LGBTQ, LGBTQI2S, Gender Non-Conforming, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Exercise, Sport and physical activity, Recreation and leisure, Policy
Bosnjak, E. H. (2021). “You’re just drawing a line in the sand”: transgender and gender non-conforming persons’ experiences of sport and physical activity (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.