Major Trans Inclusion Review Makes ‘Fair Playing Field’ Recommendation

by : Hannah Smith on : 30 Sep 2021 14:05
Major Trans Inclusion Review Makes 'Fair Playing Field' RecommendationAlamy/lady_feral/Instagram

A major review has called for a new approach to transgender participation in British grassroots sports, urging governing bodies to find ‘innovative and creative ways to ensure nobody is left out.’

The report, which was commissioned by the UK‘s major sports councils, sets out for the first time the view that fair competition can not always be balanced with inclusivity, and suggests that individual sports and competitions may have to choose which to prioritise.


The Sports Council’s Equality Group says that sex-based ‘differences in strength, stamina and physique’ mean that in many cases ‘the inclusion of transgender people, fairness and safety cannot co-exist in a single competitive model.’

New guidance says trans participation in sports may not be fair (Alamy)Alamy

The guidance, which does not apply to elite competition, also stresses that new approaches and categories may be needed in some sports to ensure trans athletes have opportunities to participate, with the report maintaining ‘sport must be a place where everyone can be themselves, where everyone can take part and where everyone is treated with kindness, dignity and respect.’

It also acknowledges that ‘no one was able to offer a single solution which would resolve all the identified issues, or that would satisfy all stakeholders,’ but instead establishes 10 ‘guiding principles’ for sports to follow. The Guardian reports that the suggestions set out in the report are not currently enforceable, but give cover to sports bodies looking to make changes, in particular regarding trans women competing in women’s sports.


Some activists opposed to trans participation in women’s sports have praised the report, with Fair Play For Women director Dr Nicola Williams telling Sky News that the guidance ‘puts an end to the idea that it is possible to allow people who were born male into the female sports category without women and girls paying the price.’

Laurel Hubbard became the first out-transgender Olympian (Alamy)Alamy

However trans activists have expressed concerns that the guidance may lead to further roadblocks being put in place to prevent transgender athletes from competing, and could put gender-diverse people off taking up sport at a grassroots level.

In a statement, trans rights advocacy group Mermaids said:


This report will have ramifications for trans people in the sporting community, and only seeks to cause unnecessary hostility, exclusion and confusion for those wishing to participate in sport

Sports groups and organisations are entitled and encouraged to write and implement their own policies on including trans and non-binary people in sport.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open 8pm–midnight Mondays and Fridays and is run by trans volunteers

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Hannah Smith

Hannah is a London-based journalist covering news and features for UNILAD. She's especially interested in social and political activism.

Topics: Sport, Now


The Guardian
  1. The Guardian

    New guidelines for transgender participation unveiled by UK sports councils