We’ve written this template letter to help you write to your MP about your concerns about fairness in female sport. Please use and modify however you wish.
Our sports are funded by taxpayers money. Make sure your MP knows this issue matters to you and why!
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CONCERNS ABOUT WOMEN’S AND GIRLS’ SPORT
I am concerned about the threat to female sport in our communities from transgender inclusion policies which have been widely adopted at many levels in almost all sports. These are off-putting, unfair, and potentially harmful, for women and girls. They have usually been developed in consultation with trans groups and not women, and adopted without any Equality Impact Assessment.
We know that women and girls are already under-represented in physical activity and sport. Many sport national governing bodies (NGBs) are working to change this. Yet their own trans inclusion policies, cascaded down from the IOC through international and national federations to local clubs, undermine this. It is leading to two specific problems:
a. Women and girls are losing their places in teams, competitions and podiums, either by losing out to people with male bodies with significant performance advantage or by self-exclusion;
b. Volunteers in community sports clubs, including coaches, referees/ umpires and safeguarding officers, are finding it confusing and difficult to interpret and administer these policies, and to maintain fairness and safety for females.
This may seem like a matter of just a few trans-identifying people, but just one trans-identifying male has an impact on many females, who may be deterred for reasons of privacy or fairness, or fearful for reasons of safety. Imagine a female at a judo club, or a rugby or football club, having to train with and compete against a male. Weight categories don’t solve the problem: a male is much stronger than a female of the same weight.
It is difficult to know how many males are now choosing to participate in female sport, since they typically use a female name and register with their sports club or national governing body as female, thus rendering them invisible as trans people. While this is desirable for them, it means that the problem is being under-estimated and not monitored. The impact on females of all ages who are deterred by sharing changing rooms with males, by facing unfair competition, or by fear of injury, is hard to measure, and no one is trying.
In the past year, the biggest sports – athletics, cycling, swimming – have recognized that female-only teams, events, competitions and sessions must mean exactly that, with no exceptions. A few other sports like rugby union and rugby league have also protected the female category. But there are many more, including contact sports, where males continue to be allowed to compete in the female category.
Unless this is addressed, all the good work done to increase female participation, and to ensure there are volunteers to enable female and junior participation, will be countered to some extent by rules created to support a small number of males but which impact a large number of females.
The Sports Council Equality Group published a review of this issue along with new guidance in September 2021, published on their website equalityinsport.org. They concluded that it is not possible to maintain fairness and safety in sport for females if trans-identifying males are also allowed into female categories. The framework is there to protect female sport and the Equality Act allows it. It’s time for political pressure to help sports bodies make the right decision.