The new 'gender-inclusive' rules for sports clubs

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

A set of new gender-inclusive guidelines have been handed out to sports clubs across Australia in a bid to accomodate transgender athletes.

The guidelines, developed by the Australian Human Rights Commission alongside Sport Australia and the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS), look to create and promote “inclusive environments in sport at all levels, from community to elite, across Australia”.

Among the suggestions released earlier this month, sports clubs are urged to include sanitary bins in all changing rooms as well as creating a “gender-neutral space”.

Clubs will also need to ensure they have identified the correct names and pronouns prior to an athlete’s participation and to continually use them throughout “conversations, databases, documents and correspondence”.

The guidelines look to make sport inclusive for transgender athletes across Australia. Source: Getty, file.

Athletes must also have access to the uniforms of their choice, with clubs ensuring appropriate sizes are available.

The guidelines identifies a trans woman not being able to order a tennis skirt in the appropriate size as a breach of inclusion rules.

Clubs should also appoint a Gender Inclusion Officer as a point of contact for transgender athletes who need to discuss issues with their participation.

With regards to youth sport, clubs would need to allow a biological boy aged 12 or younger to compete against girls.

The guidelines have been implemented to provide information on how clubs can adhere to the federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984 which “prohibits unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity in certain areas of public life”.

Sport ‘must be inclusive and safe for all’

“The Guidelines provide a significant opportunity for all of those involved in Australian sports—from grassroots participants and clubs to governing bodies—to reflect on how they can facilitate diversity and inclusion,” Chairman of COMPPS David Gallop said.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said sport should be a welcoming space for all.

The guidelines identifies transgender athletes must be able to access the correct clothing, for example a trans woman acquiring the correct-shaped skirt. Source: Getty, file.

“Unfortunately transgender and gender diverse people are sometimes excluded from sport or experience discrimination and sexual harassment when they do participate,” she said at the guideline’s Melbourne launch.

“While some reported positive experiences of inclusion, others described how they had been excluded from the sports they loved because of their sex or gender identity.

“Some spoke of disengaging from sport during their transition journey because of their concern about how they would be treated.”

The introduction of the guidelines would effect 9 million athletes across 16,000 clubs across the country.

Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer echoed Commissioner Jenkins’ sentiment, saying sport “must be safe and inclusive for all”.

“It must take strong, proactive leadership to stand up against any attitudes or behaviours that lead to discrimination in sport, so I urge every sporting organisation to use this resource as a guide to make your sport more inclusive,” Ms Palmer said.

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