Ted Eytan via Flickr

A range of sports including tennis, netball, hockey and rugby will take part in a new trans inclusivity scheme in Australia.

Eight Australian sports federations, including AFL, Hockey Australia, Netball Australia, Rugby Australia, Tennis Australia, Touch Football Australia, UniSport Australia and Water Polo Australia have come together to issue guidelines on encouraging the involvement of transgender athletes across the field of sports.

The newly implemented guidelines have been set up to challenge the stigma transgender athletes face when it comes to inclusivity and involvement in sports.

“This is a world first to see so many national sporting organisations in Australia coming together to collectively show their support for a particular part of our community,” Beau Newell, National Program Manager of Pride in Sport Australia, said at the guidelines launch.

“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,” Teddy Cook, ACON’s manager of trans and gender diverse equity, said.

The inclusivity initiative was driven by ACON, a health NGO advocating LGBTQ+ rights.

As well as the eight sports associations pledging their commitment to the inclusivity scheme, university sports also issued guidelines promoting a grass-roots and community method of inclusion.

Netball Australia and the Australian Football League have also revamped guidelines for elite athletes at the Sydney Cricket Ground launch.

Despite the movement towards greater involvement, not all sports or sporting bodies are following similar rules or methods.

Rugby Australia currently requires trans athletes to have a medical specialist consent form that highlights that their “physical development, skill level and experience are appropriate” for the full-contact sport. Alternatively, Tennis Australia are taking a less controversial route and are, instead, encouraging officials to avoid asking athletes any questions about their medical examinations or transition process.

Currently there are some difficulties that need to be ironed out when it comes to trans inclusion.

Some women’s sports advocates argue that transgender athletes acquire physical benefits by going through male puberty and believe its effects last long into adulthood, which provide an unfair advantage in competition.

However, transgender advocates have argued inclusivity should be the overriding factor. By preventing transgender athletes from participating in a sport, we risk reinforcing an existing stigma and discrimination posed towards the trans community.

In an effort to combat this, a handful of Australian federations (football, golf, swimming and athletics) have decided to mirror other sports and produce their own trans inclusion frameworks.

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