TRANS* groups say they are looking forward to meeting with Australia’s peak sporting bodies after a landmark anti-homophobia initiative was launched last week.

Spearheaded by the organisers of global gay rugby tournament the Bingham Cup, the Anti-Homophobia and Inclusion Framework for Australian Sports commits AFL, NRL, rugby union, soccer and cricket sporting bodies to have policies promoting their sports to lesbian, gay and bisexual people in place by August.

The framework excludes trans* people stating there were “important differences” between gender identity and intersex issues and issues affecting the LGB community.

However, the document says consultation with trans* groups “will take place to ensure that [the] policy suitably protects such people and meets international best standards.”

There is no timeline for when this consultation will take place.

Gender rights group A Gender Agenda said they had not been contacted by the framework’s developers or any of the sporting codes.

Executive director Samuel Rutherford told the Star Observer that the framework was a “great project”, but he would have preferred trans* issues to have been included from the get go.

“It is always disappointing to see gender diversity and intersex issues excluded from any anti-discrimination initiative, especially when [trans*] issues are already even more invisible [than] those of gays and lesbians,” Rutherford said.

Nevertheless, he said they would welcome discussion with sporting bodies, noting the group were heavily involved with the Play by the Rules initiative that aims to ensure fair behaviour in grassroots sports.

“There are trans* people who would like to participate in sports and a concerted effort on the part of government and sporting bodies to include them will be a huge boost to the mental and physical health of these communities,”Rutherford said.

Not knowing a club was aware of gender identity issues was a major barrier for trans* people, he added: “For gender diverse or intersex people, not knowing most likely equals not going.”

Transgender Victoria’s Sally Goldner welcomed the framework’s promise to consult with trans* groups: “Any move to ensure trans and gender diverse people are able to be involved in sport on their merits rather than being excluded based on inaccurate generalisations.”

The group also looked forward to “meet as soon as possible with Bingham Cup organisers – or any sporting body for that matter.”

The Bingham Cup said further consultation on trans* issues should take place directly between sporting bodies and gender rights groups.

The Star Observer contacted a number of sporting codes about their approach to trans* issues. Only the AFL replied within deadline, saying they were “continuing to work with specialist groups on our policy approach.”

However, at this point, the league had “no specific plans to further address gender identity but [we] believe that our overall vilification policy and player rules offer sufficient protection.”

In its current vilification policy, the AFL notes discrimination on the grounds of gender identity or transgender status is illegal under state laws.


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