Transgender inclusion is a top priority for community football and badminton

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The inclusion of transgender athletes is a top priority for Capital Football.

John Kirk-Anderson / Stuff

The inclusion of transgender athletes is a top priority for Capital Football.

The inclusion of transgender athletes at community level is a top priority for Capital Football and Badminton NZ as their global governing bodies signal a shift.

FIFA and the Badminton World Federation (BWF) have joined other sports in saying they are reviewing their transgender inclusion policies at elite level.

Global governing bodies for canoe racing, athletics, hockey, rugby league, netball and triathlon followed suit after Fina banned elite swimming of transgender women who experienced male puberty.

The Fina offers an “open” category for athletes who do not fit into the traditional male-female binomial.

The Swimming New Zealand board is due to meet on Wednesday to discuss how Fina’s new policy will be applied in New Zealand.

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Sport NZ is currently undertaking another round of consultation for its draft Principles for Transgender Inclusion in Community Sport, due out later this year.

New Zealand football currently does not have a trans inclusion policy, but said in a statement that a community policy was being formalised.

Fina introduced its ban on trans female athletes after Lia Thomas became the first trans athlete to compete in the NCAA Championships.

John Bazemore/AP

Fina introduced its ban on trans female athletes after Lia Thomas became the first trans athlete to compete in the NCAA Championships.

“Fundamentally, we want as many people as possible to enjoy the game and we want to encourage trans athletes to participate – whether that’s playing, coaching, refereeing or taking on any other role in football or futsal,” says the press release.

“We were part of the representative group of sports that took part in the initial consultation with Sport NZ to inform their draft guiding principles and will continue to actively participate in the consultation led by Sport NZ.”

“At the elite level, as a member of Fifa, we are governed by their rules and regulations.”

Wellington’s Capital Football has a trans inclusion policy, introduced in 2017, which states that its clubs are committed to ensuring the inclusion of transgender people in football.

A person’s approval to play in a league that best matches their gender identity will be granted on a case-by-case basis by Capital Football, and reassignment surgery or hormone replacement is not required, the policy states.

Capital Football chief operating officer Blair Duncan said the policy was put in place after clubs approached trans players.

“They talk with us and we find an environment that works for them,” Duncan said.

“We try to get as many people playing as possible and to make the sport as inclusive as possible.”

Badminton NZ chief executive Stephen Nelson said the sport was already inclusive of transgender athletes.

SIMON O’CONNOR / Stuff

Badminton NZ chief executive Stephen Nelson said the sport was already inclusive of transgender athletes.

Badminton NZ chief executive Stephen Nelson said a trans inclusion policy is expected to be finalized at the National Sports Day in November, following a lengthy period of consultation with associations and the badminton community.

“There has been no negative feedback to date and I expect Badminton NZ to publish a policy which reflects Badminton NZ’s desire to be inclusive of all badminton players regardless of gender,” he said. Nelson said.

The policy will focus on the “non-performance” space, which is “essentially any player who is not part of a New Zealand team or group”, he said. All New Zealand or elite level players will be governed by BWF policy.

“Badminton also has trans players who have been actively involved in the sport for many years now with no issues or concerns, so it’s really ‘business as usual’ for us,” he said.

“I believe badminton is already an inclusive sport and all trans badminton players will feel as welcome in badminton as anyone who wants to play the game.”

Athletics New Zealand does not have a clear transgender inclusion policy. In a statement, a spokesperson said the inclusion of transgender athletes is a “sensitive and rapidly evolving topic” both nationally and internationally.

“We have received the draft from Sport NZ, and are reviewing it,” the statement read.

“We are also aware of the remarks made by the President [Sebastian] Coe of World Athletics that the World Athletics Council will review its transgender policies at the end of the year, and we await further guidance from World Athletics.

New Zealand Rugby is working on a Community Trans Inclusion Policy, which is expected to be sent out for consultation in the coming weeks.

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