Kean Quest


Awareness and research on gender and sexual identity has advanced significantly in the last decade. Within the sports context, increased understanding of diversity and inclusion has initiated conversations about the experiences of athletes as related to their gender identity. Facilitating inclusive, fair and equitable sport cultures is of utmost importance, and the role of one’s gender and sexual identity deserves further attention. While sports culture is often aggressive and competitive, it also provides athletes with a source of community, support and safety. In a context where masculinity thrives, female athletes and athletes who identify as gender and/or sexual minorities may face unfair treatment, discrimination and harassment fueled by stereotypes and misconstrued assumptions. Further, these athletes may struggle to balance the pressures and expectations that lie at the intersection of their “gender ideal” and athletic performance, preventing them from developing a fluid identity. As these athletes develop into their roles within society, their gender identity and sexual identity may be at conflict with the normative ideals of the sport community. The purpose of the proposed qualitative study is to better understand the experiences of collegiate athletes in the context of their gender identity. We aim to explore the role of gender identity, more specifically within female athletes and athletes who identify as gender and/or sexual minorities, in order to increase support, understanding and resources for these student-athletes on and off the field. By bringing together aspects of the intersection of gender/sexuality and sports, this will allow for a further understanding of the effects of the heterosexual masculine norms within sports communities.