Inclusion of Transgender People in Ice-Hockey

The principles of equality and diversity outlined in Ice-Hockey UK’s general policy apply, in very specific ways, to people who have the protected characteristic of gender reassignment. Those having this characteristic are usually described as trans or transgender people, terms which embrace a wide range of identities, including those whose sense of self may not fall into the social categories of ‘men’, or ‘women’, but may be non-binary (gender queer) falling between these extremes, or they may be a mix of both; and a few are outside the gender spectrum altogether, that is they identify as ‘non-gender’. Others who fall under the term ‘intersex’[1] may also have some difficulties in being included in sport. Those who have changed their gender role full-time, in order to align their gender role and expression with their gender identity, are said to have ‘transitioned’.

Welcome_TRSNGClubs need to be conscious of this wide variety within the trans community, and be alert to the flexible approach needed so that they may be welcomed and included without discrimination, not only as players, but also as managers, coaches, staff members, and in the social life of the Club.

Myths and misconceptions

The discomfort experienced by trans people is described as gender dysphoria. This is not a mental illness, and adjustments to gender role and expression are not simply life style choices. Gender issues should not be confused with sexual orientation; trans people may identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, straight or asexual.

It has long been assumed that there are very few trans people, but actually about 1% of the population identifies as gender variant (gender non-conforming) to some degree and, as society generally becomes more knowledgeable and accustomed to hearing about gender identity differences, the numbers who are willing to be ‘out’, will continue to grow rapidly. Ice-Hockey, like other sports, will be seeing more trans people, and Clubs may need to take preparatory steps to accommodate this population.

 

Social inclusion

Putting into effect the principles of inclusion, dignity, and privacy, requires specialist knowledge, and a willingness to work with the individuals concerned, whose views must be taken into account at every stage of decision-making with regard to their own participation in Club activities.

Clubs should display a Code of Conduct that reflects the welcoming tone of the Equality Policy towards all protected characteristics that is visible to all players and visitors, so that trans people, as well as others with protected characteristics, feel reassured that they will not experience discrimination. Existing policies and provisions need to be looked at afresh, to ensure that they do not, inadvertently, disadvantage a trans person, because this could amount to indirect discrimination.

Use of appropriate names, titles and pronouns is key to the emotional wellbeing of trans people, as it makes them feel welcome and respected. Mistakes should be immediately followed by an apology and correction. Non-binary, gender queer individuals may use neutral or new pronouns, e.g. they, per, zie, instead of he/she, his/hers. Deliberate use of inappropriate names and pronouns amounts to harassment.

The training of managers and staff will include transgender specific information so that no embarrassment arises, for instance, in respect of use of facilities (see below).

Name Change

In the UK, people can change their name without any legal process. In practice, people may provide a written, signed statement to indicate that they intend to live according to a new name from then on. Sometimes evidence may be provided by way of a Deed Poll or a Statutory Declaration (the latter before a solicitor or magistrate in court). A doctor’s letter may also be used, but all these documents have to be paid for, and Clubs should not be putting trans people to unnecessary expense. Sometimes, where identification is sought, a Passport or Driving Licence may be presented. This may apply, for instance, in international competition, where ‘legal’ gender status may have to be confirmed. Titles such as Mx may be requested, and are already appearing in, for instance, Passports. The issue of name change for a player will be discussed with the manager and the following privacy provisions will apply.

Privacy

Where people have changed their gender role before joining the club, they may have already obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC; see Annex C). This gives them, for all purposes, the legal gender status which matches their gender identity. A GRC does indicate that the person has already lived in the affirmed gender role, for at least two years, and intends to continue doing so.

It is inappropriate to ask if a person has a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) as this breaches the person’s privacy and may be considered to be harassment. The majority of trans people do not have one, but those who do, may choose to offer this as proof of their name and gender status. Trans people whose birth was registered in this country automatically qualify for a new birth certificate when they obtain a GRC. However, birth certificates should not be requested or required. Any copies of legal documents that are provided must be treated as highly confidential. If an individual has a GRC, any person learning of a that individual’s trans history, while working in an ‘official capacity’ – such as a manager or office staff – would commit a criminal offence if they passed this information on, without the explicit permission of the person concerned.[2] It is, in any case, good practice to treat trans people as though they have a GRC, and maintain absolute confidentiality; do not disclose a person’s trans history to others without permission from the person concerned, even if they believe it is in the person’s best interests.

All written communications, including letters and envelopes must be handled in accordance with the wishes of the individual.

Where a person changes gender role, whilst still being an active, playing member (or a member of staff)[3], all documents relating to the person’s previous history, name, gender status or other personal details should be kept separately from other club paperwork, in a locked safe or drawer, in double envelopes which must be sealed, marked confidential, and only accessed by a named person, agreed by the trans person, for instance, the Club manager, whose name should appear on the outer envelope. Any documentation that still bears a person’s previous name and gender status, such as award-certificates, should be reissued if possible using the new name. The number of individuals involved in sharing the sensitive information should be kept to the minimum. Such paperwork, which may include medical and legal records must not be kept in an open file which could be accessible to office staff.

IT systems must, as far as possible remove any previous names and titles or, where this cannot be achieved, these references must be password-protected or hidden from unauthorised viewing in some other way.

When a person who has transitioned while playing for a team or Club, then transfers to another team or Club, either for geographical reasons, or because the player falls into a different age category, the utmost care must be taken not to transfer confidential information. The player should be able to start with a ‘clean slate’. If, for any reason, this is not possible, agreement with the person concerned about the extent of disclosure, must precede any action taken.

Toilet and changing facilities 

Part of the preparation for making trans people welcome in ice-hockey venues and clubs, involves ensuring that toilets and changing areas are already trans-friendly. This applies to players, staff and spectators who must be accommodated in men’s and women’s toilets and changing areas, according to the gender role in which they are living full-time. Provision of facilities is extremely variable across the UK and internationally. Therefore, accommodation of trans people who are living full-time in their affirmed gender may require different measures depending on the individual Club’s existing facilities.

Where possible, in changing facilities and showers used by players, privacy should be enhanced by introducing cubicles and/or curtaining, so that the privacy of all those participating, is improved. This level of privacy is not necessary for areas where only padding and outer clothing is involved.

In addition, toilets for players, staff and spectators should also provide as much individual privacy as possible, which may necessitate improvements in design, for instance, by having doors and partitions that extend to the floor and ceiling. Trans people must not be obliged to use toilets designated ‘accessible’ or ‘unisex’ where men’s and women’s facilities exist, unless they prefer these options, or in circumstances where only unisex toilets are available for everyone. Sometimes relabelling all toilets ‘unisex’ (except where urinals are present) is the best option, in order to avoid discrimination. Unisex facilities may be preferred by non-binary people because they are not necessarily comfortable in either men’s or women’s facilities.

If other people are not happy sharing facilities with trans people, then they, rather than the trans person, must use the alternative facilities.

 

Overnight Accommodation

When teams are staying away from home overnight, the usual practice is for two people to share a room. It is also usually acceptable in situations where one of the pair is trans, as long as the trans person is in agreement. This means trans boys/men will share with one other boy/man, and vice versa. The manager will have responsibility for ensuring that a sensible choice of responsible individuals is made. For those under 16, the views of parents should be taken into account. It is important that the trans person is not made to feel like an outsider, but to be treated in the same way as the rest of the team, as far as possible.


Inclusion in sport

There are two main considerations when including trans people in competitive sport: fairness, and, where contact with other players occurs, risk of injury must also be considered.

For sporting competitions where physical strength, stamina or physique are significant factors in determining success or failure, the Equality Act 2010 Act permits separate competitions to be organised for men and for women.

  • If the physical strength, stamina or physique of the average person of one sex would put them at a disadvantage compared to the average person of the other sex as competitors in a sport, game or other competitive activity, it is not unlawful for those arranging the activity to restrict participation to persons of one sex.
  • The Act permits the organisers of such a sport, game or other competitive activity to restrict participation of a trans person in that activity but only if this is necessary in a particular case to secure fair competition or the safety of other competitors.

Legislation therefore makes it clear that trans people taking part in competitive sport must be treated according to their current gender role and expression (rather than the sex they were assigned at birth), unless there is evidence that they have an unfair advantage, or there is a risk to their safety, or the safety of others which might occur in close-contact sports. As ice-hockey is game in which physical body contact may arise, particularly in the men’s game, care must be taken that mismatches in weight and size do not put anyone at risk, for instance, a trans man (assigned female at birth) may have a small frame and be at greater risk of injury; a trans woman (assigned male at birth) may be greater in weight and stature than other women and could potentially put them at risk in fast-moving accidental contact situations. It should be noted however, that trans women lose upper body strength when undergoing hormone therapy.

In ‘friendly’ games, managers, coaches and organisers should include trans players as they would all other players. The same principle should be applied to non-binary identifications and to intersex people. As far as is possible, having regard to fairness and safety, people should be included according to their gender identity, regardless of the sex assigned at birth. Inclusion should based on ability and standard of play. This allows for differences in speed and power to be accommodated in a sportsmanlike fashion and will help to build better environments for players. However, in many instances, the individual concerned does not have any particular advantage, or disadvantage, real or perceived, and no action needs to be taken. The best result is when the least fuss is made, and people are accepted in line with their gender role and presentation.

A common sense approach should be taken, which is flexible and takes into account the trans person’s view when competitive matches are to take place. Decisions should be made on a case by case basis, and discussed with as few other people as possible.

When playing against outside teams, the manager should take responsibility for ensuring that no embarrassment arises from inappropriate reactions from the opposing team. In many cases, no such issue is likely to arise, but where it could, discussions with the trans individual about how to approach this must precede the event.

Case study: Martha had recently transitioned. She had played ice-hockey as a man and the men’s team regarded her as a good, but not outstanding player. During the first year following her transition, she was more focussed on dealing with her work situation, and she temporary stopped playing. As things settled down in her life, she wanted to play ice-hockey again, and approached the women’s team manager. The manager said that the usual process was to have a trial with the women’s team. The women’s team captain was fine with this, but some of the other players objected and one asked if she had a gender recognition certificate. The manager said, “I don’t know, and I’m not going to ask. It would be a breach of her privacy and it’s not relevant”. The manager and the captain, insisted that it was only fair to let Martha try out for the team. Martha’s trial showed that her standard of play was considered good enough to be a team member, but she was certainly not the best player. Several other woman played to a higher standard. She joined the team, and the matter was never raised again.

N.B The possession of a Gender Recognition Certificate is not a relevant consideration in regard to inclusion in sport, because the certificate is not necessarily an indication that any particular treatments, including genital surgeries, have been undertaken. Consequently, it cannot be used as evidence of such surgery or treatment and is, therefore, not relevant to a person’s genital sex, nor does it indicate hormone levels.[4] Living in the ‘new’ gender role for 2 years is a pre-requisite, so Martha could not have had one anyway. The majority of trans people do not have GRCs.

Children and Adolescents

It is appropriate to have mixed junior events (up to the age of 12) as there is no real difference in strength and stamina and body weight between the boys and girls. It is good practice to create mixed teams, and this is especially helpful for non-binary children.[5]

Where there are separate boys and girls teams, a child who identifies as a girl (assigned male at birth), may play in the girls’ team, and vice versa.

As puberty starts, some young trans people are given medication to suspend their puberty and prevent the development of secondary sex characteristics. During that time, which can extend to a few years, these young people will remain more childlike in their physical development compared with others of the same age. They may also experience more fatigue. Those whose treatment later includes the hormones usually associated with the opposite sex (sometimes referred to as ‘cross-sex’ hormones) will then develop some of the characteristics associated with their gender identity rather than their assigned sex, e.g. trans girls will develop breasts.

Cross-sex hormones are not typically prescribed in the UK before the age of 16, but those treated in other countries (USA and Germany, for instance) may be on cross-sex hormones from about 14 years old. Young people who have had this continuous medical intervention throughout puberty, will ALWAYS have the right to participate in competitive sport, even elite sport, according to their affirmed (post-transition) gender status. It is therefore never appropriate to disclose the trans history of young people when they transfer to a different age category.

Non-binary young people may also have these treatments and, where boys and girls teams exist, non-binary youngsters should be able to compete in the team which is not that of their birth sex, unless they choose that option.

Young people who are not on medication will continue to develop secondary sex characteristics in line with their birth sex. Inclusion in sport requires the same considerations apply as for adults, in that significant differences in weight and speed must be taken into account. Untreated trans boys develop breasts and are likely to wear breast binders which are very restrictive and likely to impact on their ability to engage in sport. Surgeries are not undertaken in the UK before the age of 18.

Young people who have not yet had treatment, may benefit from ongoing support from their current manager or coach or other professional at the point of transfer to an older age category. However, this must be discreet, and only undertaken if the young person agrees.

Elite sport

Although the same consideration of fairness and risk still apply in elite sport, there may be further restrictions on adult players who have not had their pubertal development suspended. In these situations some medical information may be necessary, especially where matches are played against teams from other countries. There are more concerns about the advantage of trans women (assigned male at birth) when competing against other women. Accordingly regulations have been created by various sports organisations, which require testosterone suppression for a year before competing. Evidence of this, as well as current blood tests showing testosterone to be in the female range may be demanded. This requires the person to have had gonadectomy (removal of the testes) either surgically, or chemically (through hormones and hormone blockers). A doctor’s report may be required.

Evidence of a ‘legal’ name change may also be required for matches overseas, or against foreign teams, where their legal status in the country of origin, must be evidenced. A Deed Poll document or a Passport should suffice as evidence to the opposing team manager.

A Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) should not be requested, although it may be volunteered by the player concerned. As mentioned above, the majority of trans people do not have a GRC, and the possession of a GRC does not indicate that medical treatment or surgery has been undertaken.

The Olympic Committee has more restrictive rules, requiring two years of hormone suppression and full reassignment surgery, including genital surgeries for trans men and trans women. Trans men would also be required to have chest surgery. Trans people have not, so far, been involved in Olympic sport, although people with intersex conditions have (see Terminology Appendix C). Before a trans player is put in the position of playing against an elite team from overseas, the team manager will endeavour to clarify, and possibly negotiate, the terms under which a trans person may play, so that any last minute awkwardness is forestalled.

Dealing with the media

The Press Office is briefed to deal with any intrusive questions from the Press so that they Dealing with mediaare
not taken unawares. In most circumstances it is only necessary for them to indicate that an equality and diversity statement is on the website (home page) and will be adhered to by the Organisation. This includes stringent privacy and respect measures.

 

 

[1] See Terminology Appendix C

[2] Section 22(4) of the Equality Act does also provide some exceptions where sensitive information may be disclosed in legal and medical environments, but only in situations where it is strictly relevant. Consent should always be sought unless the individual is incapacitated.

[3] For advice about transition at work, see: www.gires.org.uk/ and elearning at http://www.gires.org.uk/e-learning

For Disclosure and Barring service see Disclosure and Barring Service and the specific office for trans people is as follows:
Telephone: 0151 676 1452; Email: sensitive@dbs.gsi.gov.uk

 

[4] In a very small number of cases, for instance in elite sport, especially if outside the UK, some medical evidence may be required (see Elite Sport below).

[5] A useful source of elearning regarding Gender Variant Children and Trans Adolescents can be found at www.nlmscontent.nesc.nhs.uk/sabp/gv prepared by Gender Identity Research and Education Society for Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, funded by Health Education England