On Thursday, July 29, Liv Hogarth and Charlie Burton from Equality Tasmania along with basketball player and trans woman Maia Cook, met with Tasmanian Senator Claire Chandler to discuss issues of trans inclusion in sport.

Unfortunately, Senator Chandler’s doubled down her previous stance, saying that her constituents are concerned that “men” playing against women is not safe and that women need the option of “sex specific” sporting competitions.

As reported last month by Star Observer, Senator Chandler has long been a staunch opponent to trans inclusion in sport. The Senator recently introduced a motion at the Liberal Party federal council, which sought to differentiate between men and women as a legitimate reason for the existence of female-specific sports, health services, domestic violence services, refuges, shelters, change rooms and prisons.

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In October 2020, Senator Chandler also denounced then recently launched inclusion policies adopted by Australia’s leading sporting codes saying that she believed they ignore evidence about transgender women.

Purpose Of Meeting Was To Stop The Vitriol

Basketball player and trans woman Maia Cook, and Equality Tasmania members Charlie Burton and Liv Hogarth after their meeting with Senator Claire Chandler. Image: Facebook.

“The purpose of the meeting was to offer an exchange of perspectives and see if we could seek some common ground, a shared understanding of what the problem is and see if we could seek some solutions.” Burton told Star Observer.

“If we couldn’t find that common ground at the very least, we hoped that the meeting would allow us to understand each other’s perspectives and to keep those perspectives in mind when making public statements, to minimise the hurt and stirring up of vitriol which can sometimes occur on this issue.”

“We spoke about how sports for a long time have managed vast imbalances in ability, build and access and are doing that now around inclusivity very successfully, and we are not hearing particularly from any Tasmanian sporting organisations that inclusion is causing any issues. We also made the point that trans people have been playing in sport for a very long time and largely without issue.”

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According to Burton, Senator Chandlers response was less than perfect and she reiterated her perspective that her constituency- largely women held “great concerns” around safety and fairness for women as a result of trans women playing sport. The implication being that trans women can play in mixed or other dedicated comps.

Activists Express Frustration

“She is obviously completely entitled to her view and her job is to represent the views of her constituency, and we have to respect that,” Burton said,  adding, “But ultimately there is a couple of points of frustration for us, which is Senator Chandler’s inability to see that trans woman are woman. Senator Chandler also talked a lot about women’s sports being sex-specific sporting competitions. There didn’t seem to be an acceptance that trans woman are and should be entitled to play in woman’s sporting competitions.”

When approached by Star Observer, Senator Chandler only sought to reiterate her divisive stance, claiming that her position is that women are entitled to single-sex sport, consistent with Commonwealth legislation which explicitly provides for sport to be operated on the basis of sex in any competitive sporting activity in which strength, stamina or physique are relevant.

Despite the recently announced new national framework designed to better support and implement trans and gender diverse inclusion in sport- spearheaded by eight leading national sporting organisations including Australia Football League, Tennis Australia, and Rugby Australia,  Chandler claims to have heard from thousands of constituents, athletes and women from across Tasmania and Australia who “agree that single-sex sport for women is a necessity for female athletes to be able to compete fairly and safely, whether that’s at elite, state or community level.”

Describing the meeting with Equality Tasmania as a respectful discussion between people with different opinions, Senator Chandler concluded by saying that she will continue to advocate for women and girls to be able to access single-sex sport, because “while sporting codes can and should be making sport accessible for everyone by offering a range of social, mixed and competitive sporting opportunities, this must include single-sex sport for females.”

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

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