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MEDIA RELEASE 6TH December 2022

Speak Up for Women respond to Sport NZ Guiding Principles for the Inclusion of Transgender People in Community Sport

Wellington December 6th 2022

Speak Up for Women (SUFW) are strong supporters of women in sport and are disappointed with today’s release by Sport NZ of their Guiding Principles for the Inclusion of Transgender People in Community Sport.

These regressive guidelines officially remove the right for women to compete in a separate sex-based category, opening up the women’s category to any male who says they possess the gender identity of a woman. According to Sport New Zealand this “internal sense” that is “at the core of a person’s being” is more important than material reality, fairness, safety, or even the Human Rights Act 1993 which specifically allows for sex separated sport where strength, stamina, or physique is relevant.

Further, no proof of any medical steps to change gender or suppress male physiological advantage is required and it is not acceptable to “ask people to prove or otherwise justify their gender, sex or gender identity.” As if the physical differences between the sexes is not easily observable. In fact, sports organisations are told that to not allow a male who identifies as a woman to play in the team of their self-identified gender would be “direct discrimination”. In other words, any male can declare for any reason that they possess a female gender identity, and sports clubs are required to take them at their word, no questions asked, and immediately allow them to compete in women’s sports categories.

The guidelines also state that observations regarding the suitability or fairness of a male athlete’s participation in a female team is likely to be considered harassment or bullying. And, in the case study provided in the guidelines, the appropriate outcome is disciplinary action against an athlete objecting. Sport New Zealand’s position is now clear - parents, spectators, administrators, volunteers, and athletes are required to ignore what they can clearly see with their own eyes in the name of “inclusion” while even more podium places and prizes are awarded to males competing in women’s sports categories.

The requirement to disregard material reality is even compulsory off the field with the guidelines stating:

“Sports organisations are encouraged to be proactive when taking trips and to consider any travel and accommodation arrangements ahead of making bookings. Shared accommodation can raise significant privacy and safety concerns for transgender people. Where teams have shared accommodation, transgender people should be given the option of proposing who they would be comfortable sharing a room with and/or whether they require a separate room.”

It is clear that the concerns for privacy and safety do not extend to women or girls who may not want to share a room with a male teammate. Along with sacrificing fairness and safety on the sporting field, these guidelines tell women and girls that they also need to subordinate their own privacy, dignity, and personal boundaries in order to be an “ally”.

The Human Rights Act allows for discrimination on the basis of sex both in sport and the provision of sex separated services and facilities. SUFW are concerned that these guidelines deliberately disregard the law as it stands and provide no pathway for female athletes, parents, coaches, or volunteers to raise concerns. There is also no guidance for sports officials on how to handle such complaints in a way that considers the competing interests of a male who wants to participate in women’s sport on the basis of their gender identity with the fairness, safety, and privacy of female athletes.

SUFW support Save Women’s Sport Australasia in their work in this area and thank them for their persistence in highlighting these regressive guidelines to the general public.


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