New participation guidance for transgender people in sport set to make a bad situation worse
Today sees the publication of the long awaited Sports Council Equality Group (SCEG) ‘Review into Transgender Inclusion in Domestic Sport in the UK.’ The UK’s leading LGBTIQ+ sports organisations, Pride Sports (who run the Football v Homophobia Campaign), LEAP Sports Scotland & LGBT Sport Cmyru fear that the new SCEG guidance will be a significant step backwards.
In the UK right now, trans people are not currently able to freely participate in sport. Taking part in sport for many trans people already involves interpreting and adhering to sometimes onerous regulations before being able to play. As a result, participation rates in sport and physical activity for trans people are poor. Research from 2019 (Outsport) shows that 54% of trans people feel excluded from particular sports or have at some point stopped participating in a particular sport as a result of discrimination around their gender identity, whilst a staggering 47% of trans women who are active in sport reported at least one negative personal experience in their sport as a result of discrimination and transphobia in the preceding 12 months.
Finding ways to improve this situation should be the priority for new trans guidance, and we are deeply disappointed that the Review does not do this. Instead, it is our belief that it will impact negatively on inclusion for trans people in sport and could result in trans people who are already playing sport being forcibly stopped, and inclusive sport opportunities being reduced. The guidance is in danger of closing down rather than opening up sport to everyone.
We also believe the new guidance presents a false dichotomy of inclusion and fairness and faces NGBs and SGBs with a choice between the two. Our organisations have worked in direct partnership with governing bodies in sport for many years nationally and internationally, supporting the development of inclusive and equitable sport for trans and non-binary people. We will continue to do so in the face of this regressive step.
We also want to reassure trans and non-binary people that we will continue to centre their experience in our work and consult with them in all that we do.