Gender expression and homonegative episodes in sport among LGB+ athletes

Birgit Braumüller*, Tobias Menzel, Ilse Hartmann-Tews

*Corresponding author for this work

Publication: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


From a historical perspective, sport is considered a male domain and heteronormative societal field. Although societal change has happened, in most sports, male, heterosexual athletes, as well as stereotypical masculine behaviour and appearance are still being privileged. Based on heteronormativity and assumed male physical superiority, mindsets about typical and appropriate gender expression permeate sporting environments. Athletes who do not meet these socially constructed, gendered expectations often experience barriers, exclusion and discrimination. Against this background, the study analyses the prevalence of (non-)conforming gender expression and its relevance for experiencing negative episodes in sport, considering the athletes’ sex and the gendertyping of sports practised. The sample consists of lesbian, gay and bisexualþindividuals actively participating in sport in Europe (n=2232). The findings suggest that gender non-conformity is less prevalent among male than female LGBþ athletes, particularly in stereotypically masculine sports. Significant correlations between non-conformity to socially constructed expectations of
typical feminine or masculine expression and negative episodes in sport occur. The results indicate that LGBþ athletes use different strategies to avoid ‘homonegative bias’ and that sport needs to be rethought on individual, organisational and societal levels.
Translated title of the contributionGeschlechtsausdruck und homonegative Vorfälle im Sport unter LGB+ Athlet*innen
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal for Sport and Society
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 09.2022