Published by the Faculty of Business, Government and Law, University of Canberra

BroadAgenda

Research and Stories through a Gendered Lens

Trans people welcomed into community sport despite online vitriol

Jun 20, 2023 | Sport, LGBTIAQ+, Gender, Activism, Commentary, Equality, Sport governance, Opinion, Feature

Written by Roxy Tickle

Content notification: This blog post discusses transphobia (specifically transmisogyny) and is likely to be triggering to trans women and transfeminine people more broadly.

Most people will be forgiven for not realising that the Australian Sports Commission published their Transgender & Gender-Diverse Inclusion Guidelines for HP Sport last week.

This is occurring four years after they partnered with the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports to develop and publish Guidelines for the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in sport.

What most people probably did notice was yet another week in a seemingly unending wave train of ill- and mis-informed opinions in a sea of hate – they just may not have realised that there was a new catalyst.

I have only begun to read and digest the latest guidelines, though upon first reading they appear to be well researched, considered and consulted upon.

I have spoken to many sports administrators over the past few years, including while assisting Hockey Australia develop their own Community Hockey Trans and Gender Diverse Inclusion Guidelines in 2020.

The common thread through all of the discussions had has been that trans and gender diverse people are seen. We are seen, welcomed and embraced into community sport.

Roxy getting ready for a game of community hockey. Picture: Supplied

Roxy getting ready for a game of community hockey. Picture: Supplied

If you’ve never been involved in community sport, it’s often buttressed at the local level by multiple generations of families.

Those that spew vitriol into social media and the comments sections of unmoderated websites would have you believe that trans people are not to be trusted in changing rooms with your children, will injure your children on the sporting field, will steal all of the trophies and …. waaaaaaaaahhhhh.

In fact, most of us aren’t very good or very fast. We aren’t a danger. We even have *shock horror* Working with Children Checks. We are nice people that are not so different to you in all of the ways that matter in regard to sport.

Except the reality is that so very few of us actually play sport. Organisations like Pride in Sport and the Australian Sports Commission are thankfully working hard to rectify that, as they are for other cohorts that are under-represented in sporting activities.

The “trans women in sport” so-called national discussion is rarely even about sport in my opinion. It is about our very existence and the absolute temerity we have to want to live open, normal lives.

When you consider that elite athletes comprise something like 1% of the sporting population, not everybody plays regular sport and that trans and gender diverse people comprise only around 1-2% of our population, this so-called discussion was never about athlete numbers.

Most people would struggle to name more than 1 or 2 trans athletes, internationally, even though trans athletes have been permitted to compete at the Summer Olympics since 2004.

I have listened to many discussions about trans women over the years – both public and private – and as best as I can tell very few people really care about testosterone levels, speed, strength, agility or any of the other attributes apparently reserved solely for men. The core issue is that we simply must stop existing.

Some people’s ability to make sense of the world around them appears to depend on the faulty premise that language exists to perfectly define their world for them. I would argue that if it did there would be no need for poetry, but I digress.

Their very sense of self depends on the existence of particular words to define themselves and the world around them. They are gifted their gender by their parents, and they have the certificate to prove it. Woe betide any person that claims it doesn’t define the course of their entire life. Without that support they begin to panic.With fear comes displaced aggression.

In just one week as some sort of twisted reward for my participation in the so-called national discussion, I was rewarded by the sight on social media of an ugly caricature of my face combined with references to sweaty balls (and no … not the sporting equipment type), as well as seeing references to me being a “sweaty grubby man” (wrong on all counts, buster), an AGP (google it – I can’t even), a pervert and many more. I don’t need to go searching for these “Opposites Day” epithets…they follow me.

I’m glad that we didn’t have a hockey game on Friday night – something about a rescheduled game. I didn’t care.

I was so mentally and emotionally exhausted from another week of vitriol towards trans people that I went to bed at 6.30pm and slept for around 12 hours.

I emerged from my room at about 9.30am Saturday morning dazed and disorientated to be greeted by my lovely new housemate’s puppy, Duke. He stood on his hind legs to gently rest his front paws on my knee (yes…that tiny) and arched his back to communicate to me how pleased he was to see me. I smiled for the first time in days. Dogs are often the best sort of people.

Roxy Tickle is a proud advocate for trans and gender diverse inclusion in sport, a Hockey Australia Pride Ambassador and she plays 4th grade (the social grade) regional women’s hockey.

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