Grampian’s all-inclusive rugby team, Aberdeen Taexali Rugby Club, has promised that rugby is for everyone as they stand alongside International Gay Rugby (IGR) in rejecting World Rugby’s changes for trans players.
On Friday 9th October, World Rugby announced guideline changes that ban trans women from playing elite women’s rugby for the foreseeable future because of “significant” safety concerns. In a statement explaining its decision, World Rugby said that after months of research and examining the latest scientific research it had “concluded that safety and fairness cannot presently be assured for women competing against trans women in contact rugby”.
The change in guidelines has garnered world-wide opposition from a number of LGBT+ inclusion in sports bodies including Aberdeen Taexali. The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) club has worked closely in alliance with some of the UK’s leading LGBT+ sports organisations, who are asking rugby clubs to show support for further research and ‘Rugby For All’ inclusion.
The LGBTIQ+ Sport and Physical Activity Alliance, which comprises the UK’s three leading LGBT+ inclusive sports organisations – Pride Sports, LEAP Sports Scotland, and LGBT+ Sport Cymru – is using its collective voice to share the ‘Let Trans Women Play’ message, inviting players, officials, administrators and fans from across the game to unite in solidarity on trans inclusion.
Established in November 2018, Aberdeen Taexali is passionate about breaking down some barriers that exist for some people who ordinarily might not get involved in rugby for whatever that reason might be, whether that be sexual orientation, race, gender, age or experience.
Welfare officer, Brandon Jones explains: “Since launching we’ve been driven by the ambition to provide a safe, inclusive and active space in the sport of rugby union in the north east, where players can meet and train weekly to gain skills and experiences to improve both their physical and mental health.
“As a truly inclusive club, with members identifying as gay, bi, straight and trans, we are hugely disappointed by World Rugby’s guideline changes. Following the document leak in early summer, we were quick to find out how we could get involved in campaigning against this.”
This included attending meetings for updates on World Rugby’s plans and helping to craft a statement of support, that called upon UK Rugby Clubs to stand with them to oppose the changes.
In addition, the club’s social media posts have been used to educate and encourage support. One significant change has included evolving the Club’s rainbow crest to now include representation for trans people, as well as BAME, within the logo’s colour palette. This has been positively received by players and supporters.
Mr Jones added: “We believe that our revised logo and open letter to World Rugby, is a strong commitment that recognises the important role we have to play in leading our community towards ensuring everyone has the chance to participate in rugby at the level and in the roles they choose.
“We have an opportunity to shape the culture of not only our club but the wider community by ensuring rugby is a welcoming, safe and accessible sport for all.”
The Club’s statement, which rejects the proposed changes and supports the need for additional research can be found below:
ABERDEEN TAEXALI RUGBY CLUB STATEMENT ON PROPOSED TRANSGENDER GUIDELINES
As an LGTBQI+ inclusive team, Aberdeen Taexali Rugby Club recognises that our goal is to break down barriers that exist for the marginalized in our team, the game of rugby, and in the community at large.
Aberdeen Taexali has made it clear that we do not in any way agree with or condone the changes to the Transgender Participation Guidelines by World Rugby. Their exclusion of our Trans sisters at international and elite levels, and the encouragement of all unions to follow their recommendations, is unacceptable.
Rugby is and should continue to be, an inclusive sport for all. The changes to the guidelines will have a devastating effect on trans women, a community who already suffer extreme marginalization, from the sport without sufficient (accurate) evidence to support their claim.
Aberdeen Taexali stands with IGR, Rugby Canada, and LEAP Scotland to continue to advocate for fair and inclusive policies and practices that do not exclude. We will continue to promote and raise up the marginalized in our sports communities.
Instead of a blanket ban, Aberdeen Taexali asks that World Rugby commit to ensuring support for all members, consider the individual needs of participants, and focus on skill and technique training to help prevent unnecessary injuries.
In making this commitment we recognise that our club has an important role to play in leading our community towards ensuring everyone has the chance to participate in rugby at the level and in the roles they choose.
We have an opportunity to shape the culture of not only our club but the wider community by ensuring rugby is a welcoming, safe and accessible sport for all.
Issued on behalf of Aberdeen Taexali Rugby Club by Kyle Yeats. For more information please contact Kyle on (+44) 754 5823 704 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTES TO EDITOR
- The club was founded in 2018 by Aberdonian Bryan Sinclair and Ross Barr-Hoyland of the Leeds Hunters as a new inclusive rugby team for the north-east of Scotland. After over a year of training a Hazlehead Park, the club now meets on a weekly basis at Woodside Sports Complex.
- Aberdeen Taexali is passionate about promoting inclusivity for the LGBT community in Aberdeen. Encouraging those who have never played rugby to get involved and find a love for something they have never previously explored.
- Since its initial launch, Aberdeen Taexali has grown by over 500% – with training now attended by up to 27 players.
- The club has been finalist for three community sport awards (Pride Scotland Awards 2019 & 2020 and Aberdeen Sports Awards) and secured sponsorship and funding from Specsavers and Cala Homes as well as committee membership accreditation with Siberia Bar & Hotel and Cheerz Bar and Club.