Last month, we were incredibly disappointed and concerned to see that the Rugby Football Union for England published a new trans and non-binary participation in rugby policy proposal alongside a consultation which asked for feedback.
It is extremely upsetting to see the Rugby Football Union publish this policy and consultation without input from trans players, robust evidence, and without any transparency into how these decisions have been made. It is even more upsetting that this policy and consultation was published on Wednesday March 31st, the date which marks Trans Day of Visibility.
In September 2018, we began a two year partnership with England Rugby to help make rugby an inclusive sport for all LGBT+ people. Our work together showed widespread support for trans inclusion across all levels and areas of rugby, and it is disappointing that this is not reflected in this proposal.
The new proposals would introduce rules based on height and weight monitoring for trans women, as well as exclusionary measures that would affect trans men and non-binary people.
Measuring anyone by their height and weight is reductive, but only asking trans women to be measured by this standard would be discriminatory and exclusionary. The research which forms a basis for these measurements took average measurements based on white cis women. We know that athletes, and those who play rugby regularly, typically have different body types than the average population. That means that in reality, this policy would result in trans women being required to be shorter and lighter than many of their cis teammates.
As well as this, measuring athletes by their height and weight goes against one of rugby’s core values - that bodies of all shapes and sizes are respected, welcomed and valued in the game. It is this environment of inclusion which attracts so many people, especially women and non-binary people to join the game in the first instance. That’s what makes rugby so great – and this policy so concerning.
We know the RFU can do better.
We know the RFU can do better. In our years of working with them we’ve commended players, staff and coaches for creating playing environments that celebrate what it means to be diverse. This proposal risks undermining the core principle of respect on which rugby is built upon. We love the game, and if you do too, there’s a way to help.
The Rugby Football Union are asking for feedback on these new suggested rules before their deadline of 5th May. We will be submitting a response to the consultation and continuing to discuss the principles of inclusion with the RFU – this is your time to get involved too!
Share the hashtag #RugbyForAll, and tell the RFU no to transphobia, and yes to inclusion!
Part of a rugby club and want to respond to the consultation? Get in touch with International Gay Rugby and support their statement.
Everyone deserves to be welcome and respected playing their sport.
Everyone deserves to be welcome and respected playing their sport, and no one should face additional barriers to the game just because of who they are.
At Stonewall, we will keep fighting with our community until every trans woman, trans man and non-binary player is supported and valued in the sport that they love.