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Introduction and policy statement
BGRC has followed recommendations and guidelines outlined by British Rowing, in respect of transgender people, which includes those who are transsexual and transgender, in all aspects of the sport: rowers, employees, coaches, volunteers and spectators.

BGRC will promote a zero-tolerance approach to transphobia. Transphobia includes discriminatory language or behaviour directed towards anyone who comes under the umbrella term of transgender.  In addition, it may be towards a transsexual person’s friend or supporter, or anyone who may be perceived to be a transsexual person (whether they are transsexual or not).

The behaviour may include a reluctance or refusal to provide access to services to the same extent as that provided for a non-transsexual person. BGRC will ensure that any unacceptable behaviour and language is tackled effectively and appropriately and sanctions and/or educational programmes implemented to ensure compliance and the creation of a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment for trans people. The following points are considered good practice for local sporting organisation officials:

  • Treat the individual with dignity and respect.
  • Explain the National Governing Body (NGB) policy and procedure and ask the NGB’s view on how to proceed.
  • Provide contact details for the NGB officer.
  • Respect the private and confidential nature of the individual’s situation.
  • Agree with the individual what information is to be shared with others and, if this is necessary, how this should be shared. In general, no information should be shared by the local official unless they have express permission from the transsexual person. Thereafter, NGB policy with regard to information sharing should be followed.
  • Ask the individual what communal changing facilities they would prefer to use, as not every changing facility will have private cubicles. This will depend on whether the individual has transitioned or is in the process of transitioning and whether they have undergone any gender reassignment surgery.
  • It may be that the most appropriate option is to use the cubicles in the toilets appropriate to their gender role, or that they should arrive changed and ready to participate, to avoid any misunderstanding should they still have sex characteristics of their former gender.
  • In line with good safeguarding practice, British Rowing recommends that adults (unless they are parents) do not use the same changing facilities as children under the age of 18 unless there are separate cubicles.
  • Encourage the individual to feedback any inappropriate language or behaviour from other individuals so that it can be dealt with.
  • Ensure a Code of Conduct is publicised indicating BGRC’s zero-tolerance policy towards all bullying/harassment of people with protected characteristics.

Trans people competing
BGRC, in accordance with guidance issued from British Rowing, must not restrict the participation of a transsexual person in competitive sport unless this is strictly necessary to uphold fair or safe competition; any other restriction would amount to direct discrimination. BGRC will treat a transsexual person as belonging to the sex in which they present (as opposed to the biological sex they were born with) unless this might give the transsexual person an unfair advantage or would be a risk to the safety of competitors. Any negative effect of restricting the participation of transsexual people must be mitigated as far as possible to permit as much inclusion as is fair and safe.

Note: British Rowing recognises that consistency with FISA’s position is appropriate for international competition. FISA itself is in the process of adopting IOC guidelines. In line with guidance from UK Sport, British Rowing has therefore adopted the IOC’s statement with regards to transsexual athletes and their status in international competitions.

However, these guidelines do not allow for the different approaches to treatment and legal status in the UK. The Sports Council advises that they should not therefore be applied to domestic competitions run by UK NGBs. A more pragmatic solution is to adopt different policies for the inclusion of transsexual rowers, depending on whether the rower seeks to participate in competitions and taking into consideration the difference between transsexual people. The aim should be to include transgender people as far as is possible.

Trans people as spectators
Spectators may themselves be transgender and may be subjected to transphobic comments from others around them. Transphobic language and behaviour can be reported either directly to club officers or race officials. In the same way that racist or homophobic language and behaviour is challenged, it is vital that coaches and club staff respond to transphobic language whenever it happens and take all reasonable steps to resolve the situation safely and effectively.

Transphobic comments from spectators may also be directed at rowers. This is not always because a rower is known to be trans, but simply as a term of abuse, in the same way that ‘gay’ may be used as a derogatory term, even if there are no gay people present. Whenever phobic language is used it creates a hostile environment and must be addressed.

Trans and non-binary inclusion guidance for members
BGRC, in line with guidance published by British Rowing, is committed to promoting an environment in which rowing is accessible, inclusive and provides opportunities and enjoyment for anyone. BGRC have adopted this guidance in respect of trans and non-binary people, which includes anyone whose gender identity, behaviour or expression is different to the gender assigned to them at birth and covers all aspects of the sport: rowers, employees, contractors, coaches, volunteers, and spectators.

The purpose of this guidance is to provide club members with information, offer a basic understanding of terminology and empower them to apply good practice and support any trans and non-binary person in rowing. To start with, here is an overview of some of the terminology you may come across:

Cisgender or cis
A person whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth based on their sex characteristics.
Gender confirmation or gender reassignment
The Equality Act 2010 protects people defined with the characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing, or has undergone a process or part of a process for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex. The Equality Act 2010 also covers someone who is referred to as a trans person as someone who is protected within the definition of gender reassignment.
Gender dysphoria
Gender dysphoria is the medical term for the experience of discomfort or distress in your body, due to having a gender identity that does not align with your gender assigned at birth.
Gender identity
A person’s innate sense of their own gender, whether male, female or something else (see non-binary below), which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned at birth.
Gender recognition
A process a trans person may go through to have their gender identity legally recognised by the government.
Someone who does not exclusively identify as a man or woman. A non-binary person may or may not identify as transgender.
Pronouns are words that stand in place of a name such as she/her, he/him, they/them, per/pers. If you are not sure what pronouns to use, offer your own pronouns first, and then use gender-neutral language.

Transgender or trans person
A broad inclusive term referring to anyone whose personal experience of gender extends beyond the typical experiences of those of their assigned sex.  This can include:

  • Trans/transgender girl/woman, A transgender girl/woman is a male-to-female transgender person who was assigned male at birth but has a female gender identity;
  • Trans/transgender boy/man, A transgender boy/man is a female-to-male transgender person who was assigned female at birth but has a male gender identity.

With the understanding of some of the terminology, the following points are considered good practice:

Welcome all trans people just as you would any other person.

If asked, explain that there are no restrictions for trans people taking part in recreational rowing.
Respect the private and confidential nature of the trans person’s situation.
Take your lead from the individual, ask their name, and use it.
Agree with the trans person what information is to be shared with others and, if this is necessary, how this should be shared. In general, no information should be shared unless express permission has been obtained from the trans person. Thereafter, BGRC’s GDPR guidance should be followed.
Ask the trans person what pronouns they would prefer to be used (see definitions, above). Asking a trans person what pronouns they would prefer to be used in association with them can make a difference in helping them to feel comfortable in a new environment.
Ask the trans person if they have any specific requirements, and endeavour to facilitate these requirements where possible.
Encourage the trans person to feed back any inappropriate language or behaviour from other individuals so that it can be dealt with.
Familiarise yourself with the BGRC Code of Conduct which is publicised indicating a zero-tolerance policy towards all bullying/harassment, including of people with protected characteristics.

Information from British Rowing can be found HERE

Updated March 2023