Eight Australian sports federations including governing bodeis of tennis, rugby union and Australian rules football, have come out with new guidelines to enable the participation of transgender athletes in various competitions.
The “world-first” initiative was started by ACON’s Pride in Sport program, a health NGO working for the LGBTQ+ rights. It was fueled by the need of getting various sports bodies to work on guidelines that could be inclusive of trans and gender-diverse people, said a statement from ACON.
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“While many trans people across Australia are members of very inclusive sports clubs, many also report that joining a club is an intimidating and frightening experience,” Teddy Cook, ACON’s manager of trans and gender diverse equity, said.
“The commitment from these sports provides much needed guidance to the many clubs working hard to be the open and inclusive sport they want to be for all athletes, including those athletes who are trans,” he added.
Tennis Australia, Rugby Australia and national federations for Australian rules football, hockey, netball, water polo, touch football and university sports have come out with guidelines that will help promote inclusion at the grassroots level.
A statement released by ACON also stated that many National Sporting Organisations like Diving Australia, Gymnastics Australia and Swimming Australia, have also started developing the trans and gender diverse inclusion frameworks for their sport.
The participation of trans athletes in sport has often been a topic of debate with many federations struggling to find a balance between fairness and inclusion. Two schools of thought largely debate on this topic with two very different approaches.
Women’s sports advocates argue that many benefits that a transgender woman receives by going through male puberty have a more lasting effect in adulthood and pose as an unfair advantage to many.
Transgender advocates, however, say inclusiveness should be considered more important and that keeping trans athletes from participating in women’s sport will only magnify the stigma attached to it and the kind of discrimination they are faced with.
Pride in Sport National Program Manager, Beau Newell, said that the joint commitment made by the National Sports Organisations is going to come out as a greater positive for the community.
“This launch demonstrates a fundamental shift within Australian sport towards the greater inclusion of trans and gender diverse athletes. By formalising their stand to be inclusive of trans and gender diverse people, these Australian sports have shown a true and tangible commitment to providing environments where everyone involved is treated with respect and dignity,” Newell said.
Australian sports have come under a lot of scrutiny by transgender activists who say the federations have not done enough for the trans athletes.
The AFL was faced with a lot of flak because of the way it had handled trans athlete Hannah Mouncey, who played in men’s handball for Australia before transitioning.
Mouncey played women’s football but the AFL barred her from being a part of the 2017 draft for the professional women’s competition and she was compelled to withdraw her entry the following year, and complained about poor treatment from the league.
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