LGBTQ+ Visibility in Women’s Sport

Trends / Realness
Jasmine Lin
Maxine Ihezie
Oct 19, 2021
When it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusion, women’s sports are far more accepting than men’s. The BBC’s 2020 sporting survey shows just how comfortable they are, with 70% of elite sportswomen saying felt they could be more forthcoming about their sexual orientation than men. In 2019, over 40 LGBTQ+‑identifying players and coaches participated in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, compared to a mere zero at the 2018 Men’s World Cup. Thanks to role models like Megan Rapinoe of the US Women’s football team, LGBTQ+ athletes have become more visible in recent years signifying a cultural shift of increasing tolerance. Still, however, transgender women are struggling to secure their right to play on the field. This presents an opportunity for brands to top scoreboards with an inclusive visual strategy.

In our Visual GPS survey, 3 in 4 women and members of the LGBTQ+ community say it’s important that the companies they buy from celebrate diversity of all kinds. It is clear from that figure, that there is a large audience that wants to see not only queer people reflected in visuals but also people from other diverse groups, with a focus on inclusion. This will go a long way in encouraging participation which has both individual and societal benefits concerning physical health. So, the time has come for brands to take the lead and score tens across the board with a visual strategy that includes and empowers all women. Here is how brands can achieve this: 


  • Visualise intersectional identities. Acknowledging that identity is multi‑layered by considering factors such as age, body size, ethnicity, gender identity, disability, socio‑economic background, religion and sexuality will more accurately reflect women’s realities. Encourage female participation in sports by consistently including all women in visuals.
  • Include transgender athletes. Transgender athletes have been met with saddening levels of discrimination, but the encouraging thing is 4 in 5 women believe transwomen should have the same rights. In addition to including trans women in communications, ensure that visuals aren’t ‘othering’ trans athletes as it goes completely against showing an inclusive culture.

  • Show allyship and support from other athletes, sports staff, or fans on and off the field. Create inclusive safe spaces for queer female athletes, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression.

Brands seeking to win gold should flex their muscles by making use of our continuously growing partnerships and collections, such as ShowUS, Disrupt Aging and the Disability collection. Inclusive visual storytelling is one way to guarantee brands knock it out of the park!
Broadening Representation for the Brazilian Black Community