In a world first, eight peak sporting bodies, including Touch Football Australia, have committed to implementing governance that supports a greater level of inclusion for trans and gender diverse people in their sports.
At a launch held today at the Sydney Cricket Ground, leading national sporting organisations (NSOs) came together to unveil their policies and guidelines relating to the participation of trans and gender diverse people. The NSOs are:
• Hockey Australia
• Netball Australia
• Rugby Australia
• Tennis Australia
• Touch Football Australia
• UniSport Australia
• Water Polo Australia
In addition, a range of NSOs have also committed to developing trans and gender diverse inclusion frameworks for their sports following the launch, including:
• Australian Dragon Boating Federation
• Bowls Australia
• Diving Australia
• Football Federation Australia
• Golf Australia
• Gymnastics Australia
• Judo Australia
• Softball Australia
• Squash Australia
• Surf Life Saving Australia
• Swimming Australia
• Triathlon Australia
After launching their own trans and gender diverse inclusion governance in 2019, Cricket Australia have also committed to supporting other NSOs throughout this process.
Touch Football Australia (TFA) released our Participation Guidelines for the Inclusion of Transgender and Gender Diverse People in Touch Football Affiliates.
Speaking on behalf of the sport's CEOs at the launch this morning, TFA CEO Jamie O'Connor said: “Touch Football helps people connect and provides a community for people to belong to. That’s why it’s so important that in delivering our sport we provide an environment that is safe, inclusive and welcoming for everyone, no matter a person’s background, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age or anything else.
"In Touch Football, we are always striving to provide a ‘place on the field for everyone’, a sport that ‘everyone can play’, but we can’t just say that without action – we need to provide meaningful guidelines and resources for those who deliver and participate in our sport so we can create Touch communities that are genuinely safe and inclusive.”
This initiative, spearheaded by ACON’s Pride in Sport program, Australia’s only program specifically designed to assist sporting organisations with the inclusion of people of diverse sexualities and genders at all levels, was undertaken following the identification of a need for national guidance on how NSOs can be inclusive of trans and gender diverse people.
Pride in Sport National Program Manager, Beau Newell, said that the joint commitment made by the NSOs marks a major moment in Australian sport.
“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.
“Sport has an amazing opportunity to provide a safe and inclusive environment to all people, including people with diverse genders and sexualities. As a country that holds sport very close to our hearts, it also has a unique position to be able to help change attitudes of many Australians. The demand for more inclusive sporting cultures makes clear that Australian society increasingly expects that sport should be for everyone, including trans and gender diverse people.”
Data from the National LGBTI Health Alliance state that trans and gender diverse adults are nearly 11 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population, with 35% of trans and gender diverse adults having attempted suicide in their lifetime. Further, international research concludes that trans and gender diverse people are much less likely to participate in sport due to fear of transphobic discrimination from other players, coaches and club officials.
Lifeline CEO Colin Seery said: “At Lifeline, we are well aware of the detrimental impacts of isolation, rejection and discrimination – impacts that can be so devastating to mental wellbeing, they can lead to suicide.
“A sense of belonging is one of our most important human needs and sport provides a great opportunity for connecting with others. Today’s commitment by these national sporting organisations to make their sports more welcoming, inclusive and safe for all Australians is a positive step towards saving lives,” Seery said.
ACON’s Manager of Trans and Gender Diverse Equity, Teddy Cook said: “We know that trans athletes can be targeted on the unfounded basis that we affirm our gender to seek a competitive advantage in sport, but this is untrue and incredibly damaging to all – trans people and our cis allies.
“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. 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.
“It is the right of every player, coach, volunteer and fan to feel accepted and affirmed, on and off the sporting field, including trans and gender diverse people, and we know that when this happens, mental and physical health outcomes dramatically improve,” Cook said.
ACON Vice-President and Co-Founder of Pride in Sport, Andrew Purchas (OAM), heralded the launch as world-first move: “I congratulate all the NSOs that have made this landmark commitment in working towards a progressive and welcoming Australia, and encourage others to consider making their sports an inclusive place for all. We are proud of community sports clubs who continue to welcome and affirm their trans players, and to those who look forward to doing so in the near future.”
To see TFA's Guidelines and read FAQs, go to www.touchfootball.com.au/trans-guidelines
People needing support can contact Lifeline (24 hours a day) on 13 11 14 or chat to a Crisis Supporter online at lifeline.org.au (7pm-midnight).
ACON provides counselling support for LGBTIQ people and those affected by HIV. To make an inquiry, call (02) 9206 2000 or visit www.acon.org.au
The following services are also available for mental health and wellbeing assistance:
• Q Life – 1800 184 527
• Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511
• Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636
ACON encourages the use of the Australian Press Council’s Advisory Guideline for Reporting on persons with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.