Eight peak Australian sporting bodies have unveiled guidelines for the inclusion for transgender people in their sports.
- Eight peak sporting bodies have unveiled guidelines for the inclusion of transgender athletes
- Most of the policies focus on athletes competing in community sport
- They are designed to give everyone the opportunity to participate in sport, regardless of sex or gender identity
Today, AFL, Hockey Australia, Netball Australia, Rugby Australia, Tennis Australia, Touch Football Australia, UniSport Australia and Water Polo Australia have committed to landmark transgender inclusion measures.
This follows on from Cricket Australia, which launched its transgender inclusion guidelines last year.
Another 13 peak sporting bodies also confirmed a commitment to developing trans and gender diverse inclusive frameworks.
“Sport is a fundamental right for all Australians,” said Beau Newell, national program manager of LGBTQ inclusion organisation Pride in Sport.
The policies mainly focus on community sport and are based on guidance from Sport Australia and the Australian Human Rights commission designed to stamp out discrimination.
They say they that everyone should have the opportunity to participate in sport, regardless of their sex or gender identity.
At a base level the policies ensure freedom to wear uniforms which match the gender a person identifies with and greater access to changerooms and bathroom facilities.
At a more technical level some sports have outlined the levels of testosterone which can be allowed in women’s competitions, while other sports have indicated players will be able to choose which gender competition they compete in.
“Each sport has gone through their respective consultation process, and all of them are coming out the other end with a very unique guideline or policy that’s reflective of their specific sport,” Mr Newell said.
‘We have to begin with inclusion’
In the early 90s, middle-distance runner Ricki Coughlan made headlines, but it wasn’t for winning races.
She was one of the first out transgender women in Australian sport.
“I got very much outed. Someone with a long lens had been filming me,” she told 7.30.
“What’s going to happen? I really didn’t know.”
Ms Coughlan says the new guidelines will create a more respectful environment throughout sport.
“It’s about creating a welcoming atmosphere,” she said.
“But it also means that we know what to do technically, as well.
“The world still has a way to go on this. But I think wherever we are, we have to begin with inclusion.”
But not all sports people agree that transgender female athletes should compete in the women’s competition.
Jane Flemming is a former Olympian and Commonwealth Games Gold medallist.
“The difficulty is that for the human species that has been born biologically male, if they go through puberty, in particular, they absolutely have some physiological advantages, whether it’s bone strength, or extra capillarisation, or larger muscle bulk,” she told 7.30.
“But then there are other aspects of that as well.
Hockey Australia CEO Matt Favier thinks inclusion is the way forward.
“There will be pockets of people who don’t fully agree with this decision. But by and large, our community has been really, really welcoming,” he told 7.30.
According to the Sport Australia guidelines, if it is believed that a transgender athlete over the age of 12 has an unfair advantage in a sport where strength, stamina or physique is relevant, sports clubs can seek inclusion exemptions through a rigorous case-by-case process.
“So we see hockey is a sport for all,” Mr Favier said.
“We worked with our member associations, our state and territory hockey associations, some current players including transgender players who are playing the game already, our national squad athletes, as well as our masters committee in the development of the guidelines.”
‘Was I even allowed to play?’
Roxy Tickle played hockey for a decade as a young person.
“I got to the point in my mid 20s, where I just felt really uncomfortable playing in a men’s team,” she told 7.30.
Ms Tickle took up hockey again this year at the age of 50.
“I only started transitioning about four years ago,” she said.
She now plays for East Lismore Hockey club.
“It took me about a month to work up the courage to contact a local club,” Ms Tickle said.
“I needed to come down to see them one night at training to have a talk through how it might work, whether I was even allowed to play, I didn’t know whether that was the case or not.
While these trans inclusion guidelines will continue to evolve, players like Roxy are just happy to be part of the team.
“You wonder who’s going to accept you, who’s going to like you, who’s going to bring you into their fold,” she said.
“And that’s really stressful. And it’s really debilitating.
“To be a member of a team of my peers and friends is just fantastic.
“We’ve become such good friends after only eight weeks. And we love playing together. And it’s such fun.”