New UK guidelines for transgender participation in sport leave advocates disappointed

The report published today by the Sports Council Equality Group says that “for many sports, inclusion of transgender people, fairness and safety cannot co-exist in a single competitive model”.

trans flag drawn in chalk on a piece of road to illustrate a piece about UK guidelines about transgender folks in sport
Image: Pexels

The Sports Council Equality Group has today published its review into transgender inclusion in UK domestic sport. The review was commissioned by representatives from each of the UK’s sports councils: UK Sport, Sport England, Sport Wales, sportscotland, and Sport Northern Ireland, in order to update its existing guidance for the inclusion of transgender people in sport.

In a statement published by Sport England, they say: “This review investigated the views, knowledge, and experience of hundreds of people with a lived experience in sport, including transgender people, and also explored the background to current policies domestically and internationally and considered the latest scientific findings affecting the inclusion of transgender people in domestic sport.”

According to the report, most participants fit into one of two categories when it came to their attitudes towards transgender participation in sport. The first of which prioritised “the value of inclusion over and above everything else,” and wanted all people to be able to participate in sport at every level with limited to no restrictions.

The second group is deemed to have believed in “what they would describe as fair sporting competition”, and think transgender athletes should perform under specific regulations.

Because of this divide, the report concludes that “the views of these two groups couldn’t be reconciled within the existing structure of sport and that the system requires a reset and fresh thinking.”

It appears that the main area of conflict is within the area of transgender women’s participation in sport, with the report saying that, “Due to retained differences in strength, stamina and physique between the average woman compared with the average transgender woman or non-binary person assigned male at birth,” transgender inclusion in sport cannot be fair and safe in “gender affected sport where there is meaningful competition”.

In response to the guidelines, Mermaids, an organisation supporting transgender, non-binary and gender diverse young people, issued a statement confirming their disappointment at the report.

“We are disappointed to read this review, which rather than focussing on bettering its existing guidance for trans people in sport, yet again ignores the lived experiences of trans people, and misinterprets the Equality Act and academic literature,” the statement begins.

“This report will have ramifications for trans people in the sporting community, and only seeks to cause unnecessary hostility, exclusion and confusion for those wishing to participate in sport.”

Mermaids have also declared that they will be publishing a longer statement on the report, and say that alongside their colleagues LEAP Sports (Scotland), Pride Sports, LGBT+ Sport Cymru, and Scottish Trans, they offer their “full solidarity and support to all trans and non-binary people participating in sport.”

The report, ‘Guidance for Transgender Inclusion in Domestic Sport’, is available to read in full here.

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.