Sport NZ is in their final stage of consultation on the Guiding Principles for the Inclusion of Transgender Participants In Community Sport. The purpose of these guidelines is to help sports develop policies for their own codes at grassroots community level.
It is clear that if these guidelines are finalised in their current form, transgender inclusion will be prioritised over the fairness, safety and opportunities for girls and women in sport.
The Sport NZ Draft Guiding Principles state: An Inclusive transgender policy allows individuals to take part in their self-determined gender and not the sex they were assigned at birth. It does not ask people to prove or otherwise justify their gender, sex or gender identity.
What this means for the female category at community sport:
If a male declares a female identity, they will be entitled to play with and against females at community level sport, no questions asked. If sporting organisations have not been able to facilitate private bathrooms, they will also be entitled to use the facilities that they are most comfortable in, such as female bathrooms, changing rooms and female dormitories on sports trips. Sport NZ’s guiding principles also imply that community sport isn’t competitive and female athletes don’t play to win. The draft principles say that girls are involved in sport primarily as a social activity, and so requiring them to accept males that identify as girls or women into the female category is inclusive.
No research has been undertaken to gain an understanding of the potential impacts on girls and women should these guidelines be implemented into sporting policies.
There is a risk that female participation levels will be impacted, if they are not comfortable playing with, or against, males that identify as women.
There will be less opportunity for females to win, place on podiums, or make a team. The ability for females to win will be under threat due to the biological advantage of male transgender athletes.
Females will not be given the opportunity to give consent, especially in a contact or collision sport, for participating against a male-bodied opponent. Females currently give consent to play sport against other females, and should not have to accept the increased risk of playing against male bodies.
There may be mental health consequences for females, especially in their teenage years should even more girls and women choose not to participate in sport. Research shows that the overall rates of mental health disorders tend to be around 20-40% higher in females than males. Females are more likely to suffer from psychological problems, to self-harm, and to experience suicidal thoughts and attempt suicide. Research also shows that both depression and high instances of self-harm decline through physical activity, hence the importance of continuing to invest in increasing female participation rates in sport, and not to implement policies that threaten the current levels.
How can officials ensure the safety of female athletes should a male transgender athlete be competing, especially in contact sports?
How will volunteers ensure the safety of female athletes in their changing rooms, and in female dormitories on sports trips, if male bodies are allowed in those spaces?
How will sports clubs and associations deal with female transgender athletes taking testosterone if they wish to continue participating in the female category, given it is performance enhancing?
When female athletes are beaten, or miss out on opportunities – as they already have – due to male transgender participation in the female category, how they will deal with the inevitable backlash from the athletes, parents, or spectators?
If you share our concerns about the implications of the guiding principles, what can you do?
Sport NZ is seeking written feedback on the guiding principles from National Sporting organisations, and those involved in the previous rounds of consultation, by Friday, 15 July 2022.
However, Save Women's Sport believes it is important for all stakeholders who will be required to implement and oversee, or be impacted by these guidelines, to have input into them. This includes officials, volunteers, and most especially female athletes and/or the parents, caregivers or whānau of girls in sport. You can find a copy of the guidelines here.
Please send any feedback or concerns you have to your national sporting association, and/or:
Here is some information you may find useful for your submission: