Australia

National guidelines launched to include gender diverse Aussies in sport

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National guidelines to promote the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in sport have been launched.

Australian sporting organisations are being urged to adopt new guidelines aimed at promoting the inclusion of gender diverse people.

The guidelines, launched on Thursday, were designed by the Australian Human Rights Commission, Sport Australia and the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) in consultation with governments, player associations, legal advisers and athletes.

They aim to make organisations aware of their legal obligations to be inclusive under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, and make suggestions on how to create and maintain inclusive environments.

“Access to sport is a human right for everyone and is really important for social, mental and physical health,” Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said.

"There has been increasing interest from organisations in understanding how to be more inclusive and guidance about what the laws say.”

Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer said the guidelines are about putting "people first".

"[The guidelines] are about making sure that we stand up and be strong and proactive leaders against behaviours and attitudes that are no longer acceptable in society," she said.

"We can not make people follow them, but implementing them will mean our society will be healthier and happier."

Members of A-League club Sydney FC posing for a photograph with a rainbow flag in 2017
Members of A-League club Sydney FC posing for a photograph with a rainbow flag in 2017
AAP

Last year, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission launched similar guidelines in Victoria.

LGBTQI+ sport charity Proud 2 Play, which was involved in creating the national guidelines, hope they will help inspire change.

"Transgender and gender diverse inclusion is quite a complex topic, but that is not to say that it does not need to be addressed. This is a good first step on that journey," director and co-founder Ryan Storr said.

"There is a long way to go and there is a lot of work to do, but this is a really great foundation to give sport the opportunity to engage in the space."

Elite sport has become a platform to target the trans community, according to Dr Storr.

Tennis champion Martina Navratilova, widely considered one of the best female tennis players of all time, earlier this year called the participation of trans women in elite female sport as “cheating”.

Closer to home, Hannah Mouncey made headlines in 2017 when the AFL ruled them ineligible for selection in the 2018 AFLW draft.

They withdrew from the 2019 AFLW draft despite meeting the league's medical requirements. They said the AFL had treated them poorly and prioritised its corporate image above all other considerations.

Dr Storr said the more that local and grassroots sport teams look at the new guidelines, the faster discrimination can be dismantled.

"Sport is one avenue that has been targeted by anti-inclusion advocates, especially around trans women in sport at the elite level," he said. "These toxic debates are having an impact on young people entering sport."

"It is very important that we get the community level right, because at the end of the day that is where participation happens."

Supporters during a rugby union test between Australia and Ireland at AAMI Park on June 16, 2018 in Melbourne.
Supporters during a rugby union test between Australia and Ireland at AAMI Park on June 16, 2018 in Melbourne.
Getty

The guidelines’ launch came less than 24 hours after the Australian Pride in Sport Awards were held in Melbourne.

The awards are a reflection of the Pride in Sport Index, a system used to asses LGBTIQ+ inclusion within Australian sport.

Cricket Victoria was recognised as the Highest Ranking State Sporting Organisation, while AFL club St Kilda was named the Highest Ranking Professional Club.

Tennis Australia and Melbourne University Sport were joint winners of the Highest Ranking Overall Award.

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