TRANS* players should find it easier to join sports teams following the launch of new guidelines aimed at breaking down barriers to participation.
The document, produced by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC), aims to clear up confusion in sporting clubs around the involvement of trans* players as well as spell out their obligations under anti-discrimination law.
However, a trans* advocate has urged the states to go further and follow Tasmania’s lead where discrimination in sport based on gender identity has been outlawed altogether.
VEOHRC commissioner Kate Jenkins said: “The reality is, transgender people, like everyone else, compete in sports and mostly they are welcomed.
‘‘At the same time, some sports organisations are confused about their legal obligations and a lack of understanding about transgender people can lead to discrimination, bullying and exclusion,” she said.
“Where there’s confusion or discrimination, this publication provides practical guidance and support.”
Transgender Victoria played a key role in producing the guidelines.
“The exemptions to letting trans* people play is limited and some clubs have taken it too far and that’s not on,” said Sally Goldner, the organisation’s spokesperson.
“What this publication seeks to do is put the facts out there about these exemptions.”
Goldner said she welcomed Victoria taking a lead on clarifying the law but would prefer all the mainland states to fall into line with Tasmania where, since 2005, no restrictions have been placed on trans* people playing on sports teams.
That year, Martine Delaney made history by playing for the women’s team of Clarence United football club having previously played 25 years in the men’s competition.
Last year’s ground-breaking Anti-Homophobia and Inclusion Framework for Australian sport, spearheaded by organisers of gay rugby tournament Bingham Cup Sydney 2014, only covered sexuality.
Bingham Cup Sydney president Andrew Purchas said expanding inclusion initiatives to trans* people was desperately needed.
“It’s really important to create a welcoming environment regardless of sexual identity [and] this will be an important resource for sporting bodies to include transgender people in their homophobia and inclusion policies,” he said.
However, Purchas said it was important sporting clubs and codes were monitored to ensure they lived up to their obligations.
(Main image credit: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)