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April 10, 2021

Including transgender and gender diverse people in sport

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In an area which is becoming unceasingly contentious, new guidelines have been launched to promote the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in sport.

Sport and human rights leaders are encouraging all Australians to stand for inclusivity, launching new guidelines that promote the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in sport.

National Guidelines for the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in sport, launched in Melbourne last week, were developed by the Australian Human Rights Commission in partnership with Sport Australia and the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS).

The Guidelines provide information on the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Commonwealth) and guidance on creating and promoting inclusive environments in sport.

Every Australian has the fundamental right to enjoy the wonderful benefits of sport and physical activity

Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer says simply put people first. ‘Sport must be safe and inclusive for all because every Australian has the fundamental right to enjoy the wonderful benefits of sport and physical activity,’ she said. ‘Sport Australia stands for inclusivity and we want every person in Australian sport to stand with us.’

Research tells us gender diverse people, particularly young people, want to engage more in sport and physical activity but often face or fear peer rejection.

Palmer says we need to ensure sport is a welcoming place that helps. ‘Let sport be an example for broader society, showing how we can positively influence community connections and a better future.

‘It must take strong, proactive leadership to stand up against any attitudes or behaviours that lead to discrimination in sport, so I urge every sporting organisation to use this resource as a guide to make your sport more inclusive.’

Palmer says it’s not just up to our sport leaders. ‘Every single person involved in Australian sport can play an important part in being more inclusive.’

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said the Australian Human Rights Commission consulted with a broad range of sporting stakeholders, including transgender and gender diverse participants across a variety of sports and competition levels to develop the guidelines.

Transgender and gender diverse people are sometimes excluded from sport or experience discrimination and sexual harassment

‘Unfortunately transgender and gender diverse people are sometimes excluded from sport or experience discrimination and sexual harassment when they do participate,’ she said.

‘While some reported positive experiences of inclusion, others described how they had been excluded from the sports they loved because of their sex or gender identity. Some spoke of disengaging from sport during their transition journey because of their concern about how their team mates would treat them.

‘I look forward to sporting organisations using these Guidelines to take steps to encourage the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in their sport.’

COMPPS represents some of Australia’s biggest sports, including nine million participants and 16,000 clubs. COMPPS spokesperson Craig Tiley urged all sports to engage with the guidelines.

‘We are proud to be involved in the development of these guidelines, but these are just words on pages until we, as sport leaders, implement them and bring them to life,’ he said.

We all need to embrace and promote the importance of diversity and inclusion

‘As custodians for our sports, we all need to embrace and promote the importance of diversity and inclusion so that sport better represents individuals, communities and Australia as a whole.’

Representing LGBTI sport charity, Proud 2 Play, outreach manager and sporting participant Bowie Stover says the Guidelines are a positive step towards the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in the wider sporting community.

‘As a non-binary athlete and having worked with numerous sporting clubs and codes over the past few years, I’ve experienced first-hand the many positive outcomes that occur when clubs actively show support for their trans and gender diverse participants,’ Stover said.

‘It benefits not only the trans and gender diverse community involved as players, volunteers and spectators, but also helps the clubs and all sports as a whole, in creating a diverse and safe sporting environment for everybody.

Stover said they encourage sporting clubs and bodies to adopt these guidelines. ‘We need to help ensure trans and gender diverse inclusion in their sports is proactive and that everyone is supported when joining their clubs, regardless of their sex or gender identity’.

The Guidelines can be accessed at: www.sportaus.gov.au/transgender.


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