New Zealand says self-identity enough for transgender athletes in community sport


FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Weightlifting - Women's +87kg - Group A - Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan - August 2, 2021. Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand celebrates after a lift. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

(Reuters) - Transgender athletes will be able to participate in community sport in New Zealand in the gender they identify with and not need to prove or justify their identity, according to guiding principles released by Sport New Zealand (SNZ) on Tuesday.

The guidelines do not apply to elite sport and it will be up to individual sports to define where and how transgender athletes participate, the governing body said.

"An inclusive transgender policy allows individuals to take part as their self-determined gender and not as the sex they were assigned at birth," SNZ said.

"It does not ask people to prove or otherwise justify their gender, sex or gender identity."

Transgender participation has proved controversial at amateur and elite levels, with women's groups and some athletes saying transgender athletes should be banned from female categories to ensure fair competition.

Supporters of transgender participation argue that not enough research has been done into whether transgender athletes have an unfair advantage against women.

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics Games in Tokyo last year.

Sport New Zealand said it was essential that community sport leaders were committed to inclusion and could show that commitment by using pronouns in email signatures and communications, and appointing inclusion officers.

The principles said changing rooms and bathing facilities needed to ensure privacy so that all people could use them safely and comfortably.

That could mean removing urinals to make bathrooms "gender neutral" and making open showers private.

The guidelines also said sports should consider whether gender specific uniforms were necessary and redesign them to accommodate different body types and shapes.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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