Australian sporting orgs commit to trans & gender diverse inclusion

For the first time anywhere in the world, Australia’s peak sporting bodies have come together to stand up for trans and gender diverse communities, with a commitment to inclusion in sports.

The announcement was made this morning at the Sydney Cricket Ground, led by ACON’s Pride In Sport program, where eight leading organisations revealed new policies and guidelines relating to trans folks participation in sport.

AFL, Hockey Australia, Netball Australia, Rugby Australia, Tennis Australia, Touch Football Australia, UniSport Australia and Water Polo were all represented at this morning’s announcement.

A number of national sporting organisations (NSOs) have also made a commitment to inclusion frameworks following the launch, with Athletics Australia, Softball Australia, Judo Australia, Golf Australia and Diving Australia among them.

Pride in Sport National Program Manager, Beau Newell, said that the joint commitment made by the NSOs marks a major moment in Australian sport.

“This launch demonstrates a fundamental shift within Australian sport towards the greater inclusion of trans and gender diverse athletes. By formalising their stand to be inclusive of trans and gender diverse people, these Australian sports have shown a true and tangible commitment to providing environments where everyone involved is treated with respect and dignity,” Newell said.

“Sport has an amazing opportunity to provide a safe and inclusive environment to all people, including people with diverse genders and sexualities. As a country that holds sport very close to our hearts, it also has a unique position to be able to help change attitudes of many Australians. The demand for more inclusive sporting cultures makes clear that Australian society increasingly expects that sport should be for everyone, including trans and gender diverse people.”

Data from the National LGBTI Health Alliance state that trans and gender diverse adults are nearly 11 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population, with 35% of trans and gender diverse adults having attempted suicide in their lifetime. Further, international research concludes that trans and gender diverse people are much less likely to participate in sport due to fear of transphobic discrimination from other players, coaches and club officials.

Lifeline CEO Colin Seery said their organisation is well aware of the detrimental impacts of isolation, rejection and discrimination.

“A sense of belonging is one of our most important human needs and sport provides a great opportunity for connecting with others. Today’s commitment by these national sporting organisations to make their sports more welcoming, inclusive and safe for all Australians is a positive step towards saving lives,” Seery said.

ACON’s Manager of Trans and Gender Diverse Equity, Teddy Cook added; “We know that trans athletes can be targeted on the unfounded basis that we affirm our gender to seek a competitive advantage in sport, but this is untrue and incredibly damaging to all – trans people and our cis allies.

“While 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. The commitment from these sports provides much needed guidance to the many clubs working hard to be the open and inclusive sport they want to be for all athletes,
including those athletes who are trans.

“It is the right of every player, coach, volunteer and fan to feel accepted and affirmed, on and off the sporting field, including trans and gender diverse people, and we know that when this happens, mental and physical health outcomes dramatically improve,” Cook said.

ACON Vice-President and Co-Founder of Pride in Sport, Andrew Purchas, celebrated the launch as world-first move.

“I congratulate all the NSOs that have made this landmark commitment in working towards a progressive and welcoming Australia, and encourage others to consider making their sports an inclusive place for all. We are proud of community sports clubs who continue to welcome and affirm their trans players, and to those who look forward to doing so in the near future.”

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