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Canadian soccer player Quinn made history at the Tokyo Olympic Games by becoming the first out trans and the first non-binary athlete to win a medal.

It took two periods of extra-time and a drama-filled penalty shootout, but Canada’s Julia Grosso buried the game-winner against Sweden to capture the first-ever gold medal for the country in women’s soccer.

Stina Blackstenius had scored the first goal to put Sweden ahead in the first half. Canada drew level thanks to a Jessie Fleming penalty in the second half to force the game into extra time before the shootout ensued.

But at Tokyo 2020, ​the star athlete known by the single name Quinn hasn’t been just thinking about medals.

After Monday’s semifinal win over the United States Women’s National Team — Canada’s first win over its North American rival in 20 years — Quinn, who uses they and them pronouns, told CBC Sports that they’ve been “getting messages from young people saying they’ve never seen a trans person in sports before.”

“Athletics is the most exciting part of my life and it brings me the most joy. If I can allow kids to play the sports they love, that’s my legacy and that’s what I’m here for.”

Quinn’s mother ​Linda played basketball at the University of Waterloo in Canada, while their father Bill played rugby at the University of Western Ontario.

Quinn, who plays for Seattle OL Reign in the NWSL, made their debut for Canada in 2014.

The 25-year-old has since made 68 appearances for their country, including winning a bronze medal with the team in Rio in 2016 — but at the time they ​were not publicly known to be trans.

Fast forward to 2021 and on July 21, Quinn became the first out trans athlete to compete at an Olympic Games.

“First openly trans Olympian to compete. I don’t know how to feel,” they wrote in a post on Instagram.

“I feel proud seeing “Quinn” up on the line-up and on my accreditation. I feel sad knowing there were Olympians before me unable to live their truth because of the world.

“I feel optimistic for change. Change in legislature. Changes in rules, structures, and mindsets.”

“Mostly, I feel aware of the realities. Trans girls being banned from sports. Trans women facing discrimination and bias while trying to pursue their Olympic dreams. The fight isn’t close to over … and I’ll celebrate when we’re all here.”

Quinn is a dynamic midfielder who has been pivotal in opening up the play for Canada. They have started four out of five matches at these Olympic Games, including the semifinal against the U.S., and are sure to play a significant role in the final.

Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé has been crucial to Canada’s success so far and the team will be looking to record international goalscorer Christine Sinclair — in both men’s and women’s soccer — and her leadership as captain to help them walk away with the gold.

This is not the first time Quinn has made history.

After playing soccer ​in college at Duke from 2013-17 they became the highest-drafted Canadian player in NWSL history when the Washington Spirit picked them third overall in 2018.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been billed as the most inclusive Games to date, with Outsports reporting in July that there would be at least 180 out LGBTQ+ Olympians in Tokyo and at least four ​athletes who are out ​and either trans or non-binary.

In Rio, ​the number of out LGBTQ+ athletes was just 56 and there were no out transgender athletes​. ​It was a 2004 ruling from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that first formally allowed trans athletes to compete.

Quinn is joined by history maker Laurel Hubbard, the first out transgender woman to compete in the Olympics.

Hubbard, a weightlifter from New Zealand, failed all three of her snatch lift attempts​, including one at 120kg and two at 125kg, meaning she was no longer in contention to win a medal. After her attempts, she waved to the crowd and bowed before she walked off stage.

There has been much debate about the inclusion of transgender athletes in the Games, with the IOC saying that they will review guidelines for trans athletes after Tokyo 2020.

“I am not entirely unaware of the controversy which surrounds my participation at these Games,” Hubbard said after competing on Monday.

“And as such, I would particularly like to thank the IOC for, I think, really affirming its commitment to the principles of Olympism and establishing that sport is something for all people. It is inclusive, accessible.”

‘They have embraced change’

Team USA skateboarder Alana Smith, who identifies as non-binary, ​competed in Tokyo, and fellow American Chelsea Wolfe, ​who is trans, was in Tokyo as an alternate for Team USA’s BMX team.

Canadian midfielder Quinn ​shared on Instagram in September 2020 that they were trans. Quinn has since been vocal about their personal journey, saying they want to be a role model for future generations of athletes to feel that they can compete as their ​authentic selves.

“I know for me it’s something I’ll be doing over again for the rest of my life. As I’ve lived as an openly trans person with the people I love most for many years, I did always wonder when I’d come out publicly,” Quinn said.

“Instagram is a weird space. I wanted to encapsulate the feelings I had towards my trans identity in one post but that’s really not why anyone is on here, including myself.

“So instead, I want to be visible to queer folks who don’t see people like them on their feed. I know it saved my life years ago. I want to challenge cis folks […] to be better allies.”

​Cis, or cisgender, is a term that refers to people whose gender is aligned with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Quinn has said that Canada and their teammates have welcomed their transition, saying on Instagram that “they have embraced change and turned into uncomfortable conversations and I love them for it.”

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