New guidelines for ‘complicated’ issue of gender diversity in sport
Sport Australia chief executive Kate Palmer and Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley stood side by side on Thursday and agreed that forcing athletes to take hormone-suppressing drugs to enable them to compete is wrong.
Sport Australia this week joined forces with the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports to launch new guidelines for the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in sport.
While the guidelines do not cover elite competitions, Palmer was adamant that athletes should not have to take medication to lower naturally occurring testosterone levels.
South African runner Caster Semenya is at the centre of the debate about the eligibility of athletes with differences in sexual development to race at distances between 400m to 1500m.
"I firmly believe that no athlete should have to take drugs to allow them to compete in sport," said Palmer. "It's absolutely not acceptable."
Tiley agreed but acknowledged "there will always be challenges" in striking the right balance between fairness and inclusion.
Speaking to The Age at the launch of the guidelines to promote the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in sport, Tiley said: "You've got to put a stake in the ground.
"And this is that stake, we've got the guidelines now."
The guidelines include information about the Sex Discrimination Act and guidance on creating and promoting inclusive environments in clubs.
"In five years wouldn't it be wonderful to think that everyone in this country felt safe and included to participate in any sport?" Palmer said.
The guidelines canvass an "inclusion checklist" that lists six simple changes that clubs can adopt to make their sporting environment more accepting.
These include changes to uniforms and facilities to cater for different body shapes as well as a publicly available inclusion policy that promotes strong leadership and education.
The 50-page glossy booklet also includes examples of discrimination, such as a transgender man being told he cannot register for a men's club or non-binary people being unable to order a tennis skirt in the appropriate size.
Tiley said that the biggest challenge will be in getting people to accept and enforce the guidelines.
The issue is that people will still have a jaded view of this topic.
Craig Tiley, CEO Tennis Australia
"Its very straightforward, there are six main items on the checklist. But the issue is that people will still have a jaded view of this topic. There's going to be people out there who are going to be sceptical, have a different view.
"But if it comes from the ground up, from people in the clubs, it's the first step, one of many."
Palmer said the guidelines will work towards changing "ingrained" attitudes and beliefs at the local and community sporting level.
"We cant convince them by hitting them around the head, its a systems approach," she said.
It's a change that transgender athlete Emily Scott welcomes. The 37-year-old began playing football with boys aged 11 but in the last three seasons, she has played alongside other women for the the St Kilda Sharks.
"When I was forced to play mens football it was to affirm a masculine identity that never belonged to me. But now I don�Read More – Source[contf] [contfnew]