Proud 2 Play’s new trans and gender diverse advisory board offers insight, information and support from athletes who know how to drive the conversation forward.
March 31 was Trans Day of Visibility. But we need to continue the conversation.
Trans and gender diverse inclusion in sport is so important, but actions to be more inclusive and celebratory can often be discarded or forgotten because of the uncertainty or unwillingness of sports to learn and listen.
Inclusion can be hard work, but it’s made that much harder if that labour is left to those whose lived experience is outside of the communities they want to engage with. This so often leads to community sports feeling lost, overworked and overwhelmed when it comes to inclusion initiatives.
But there are resources and support to help your sport become more inclusive and once those steps are taken, the rewards are well and truly worth it.
We highlighted the work of Proud 2 Play last week who are wonderful advocates and a great resource for LGBTIQ+ inclusion and participation in sport.
They have a new trans and gender diverse advisory board which will work to look at the specific barriers and challenges for trans and gender diverse people in sport to contribute more knowledge and support to the sector.
For advisory board member Erica James, it’s a privilege to work in this space and draw more attention to those who feel less seen in sport.
“I feel quite privileged to have the opportunity to discuss my views on diversity with such a passionate group that represents so many different parts of the gender diverse spectrum. My hope is that we are able to guide organisations towards policies that benefit not just the fairly widely-recognised transgender folks who still conform to the gender binary, but also the far less visible, and underrepresented, people for whom the words ‘male’ and ‘female’ are not accurate or fair.”
Erica is also passionate about taking action beyond conversations and helping sporting organisations form policy, giving support and representation for those the policy seeks to serve.
“I think it’s very important to have an advisory group as it gives sporting organisations the opportunity to write policies that are guided by the people that those policies actually affect. A policy on gender diverse inclusion written by cisgender people, without the input of gender diverse people, will inevitably be problematic, or even dangerous.”
This also comes from a place of personal passion for Erica who knows the power of inclusion and visibility for the next generation.
“After Cricket Australia released their transgender and gender diverse inclusion policy in 2019, I received a message of thanks from the mother of a person I had played cricket against a few times over the years. Their child, having seen how comfortable, happy, and accepted I was on the cricket field, realised that they didn’t have to hide who they were, and he is now living as his true self.
“I think that when people can see that gender diversity is all around, and isn’t something to be scared of or fixed, we all benefit.”
Corey Wakefield also serves on Proud 2 Play’s new trans and gender diverse advisory board.
“Being part of the Proud 2 Play advisory board gives me hope that transgender and gender diverse youth and adults alike will be accepted and encouraged to participate in sport, both at a community and elite level.
“Previous representation of TGD athletes and the community has not provided appropriate education or policy direction to ensure that communities are educated, so there’s still a lot of misinformation surrounding TGD participation. As a result, TGD athletes suffer. They’re excluded from competition, subject to harassment online when they do succeed, and ultimately polarised from the sports and recreation environment altogether. I hope that we can be part of a change that results in better experiences especially for the next generation of sporting youth.”
To achieve this, Corey and Erica’s, along with other members of the group’s experiences as trans and gender diverse athletes themselves is invaluable and key to driving change.
“Having a trans and gender diverse advisory group that is compiled of actual athletes with trans and gender diverse histories is absolutely crucial in my opinion,” Corey says.
“For too long policies surrounding the TGD (trans and gender diverse) communities have been developed by cisgendered people with little community input. We don’t need to be spoken for. We are perfectly capable of having a voice as we are academics, athletes and professionals of all walks of life with lived experience which is invaluable in the policy and process creation process.”
This is why Proud 2 Play’s work is so important. There are amazing people like Corey and Erica, and many more who are here right now, doing the work, living the experience, participating in multiple sports and willing and able to offer their support to the sporting community.
For Corey, this work doesn’t come lightly, but comes from a place of pride and passion.
“I chose to be visible in the sporting community so that it’s easier for others who come through to be their true, authentic self without fear of discrimination or harassment.”
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These conversations continue to be important beyond an annual day, inclusion in sport should be a fulltime priority for everyone as sport should be the place everyone comes to equally, but we know that’s not the case and it needs to change. Corey highlights that we need ongoing visibility, conversation and celebration.
“Visibility of transgender and gender diverse people is crucial because it helps normalise and destigmatise the TGD community. Visibility provides hope to people who are questioning their gender identity or transitioning as well as to their family and friends.
“Without visibility, transgender and gender diverse people get lost in the LGBTIQA+ rainbow, where we exist as a minority within a minority. The needs of the people with diverse gender identities often differ than those with diverse sexual orientations and without visibility, those needs are often forgotten about.”
If you, your sporting club or organisation wants to learn more about trans and gender diverse inclusion, policy, participation and take action towards becoming more inclusive, head to Proud 2 Play.