Transgender and Non-Binary Players Benefit from Updated Ringette Canada Policy
OTTAWA, June 17, 2021 – Based on the unanimous recommendation of an expert panel, Ringette Canada has updated its policies to make the sport more welcoming for players who identify as transgender or non-binary.
Under the previous policy, transgender players had only one option to participate in the gender category in which they identified (i.e., a transgender male had to play on a boy’s/men’s team or in a mixed division). While this was recognized as a supportive and gender-affirming approach, it ended up pushing some players out of the sport and creating negative social consequences for others by forcing them to join other teams.
“We had players who were assigned the female sex at birth and started playing ringette on female teams,” explained Natasha Johnston, Executive Director of Ringette Canada. “When they later disclosed their gender identity as male, they could only play on male or mixed teams. This meant leaving behind close friendships on the female teams.”
Johnston added that male or mixed teams do not yet exist everywhere in the country, which means there are currently no options for players in those places who identify as transgender males or non-binary.
The renewed policy allows trans athletes to play on a team that corresponds with either their gender identity or their sex assigned at birth. The changes also make options more explicit for non-binary players who can participate on a team of their choice (male, female or mixed).
The policy update deals with these identified gaps while Ringette Canada works with the provincial ringette organizations to develop a full slate of program offerings for all participants.
“This change means that a player assigned female at birth, who now identifies as a male, has the option to remain on his current team in a female-only league, if that’s his choice,” said Pamela Julian, Executive Director of Ringette Ontario, and a member of the expert panel that recommended the policy change.
“The player can also choose to participate in a mixed or male-only league, if the option is available in that part of the country,” added Nicole Robb, Executive Director of Ringette BC, who also sat on the expert panel.
“I’m proud of the thoughtful and practical way forward that we’ve come up with,” added Kai Scott, President of TransFocus Consulting Inc., who was invited to join the group as a subject matter expert. “We carefully considered the full range of perspectives and options for how to address unique circumstances facing transgender and non-binary athletes. I’m also touched by the caring community of ringette along with Ringette Canada’s leadership in fulfilling a commitment to its core values of equity and inclusion.”
In collaboration with its provincial partners, Ringette Canada is developing a suite of practical guides and tools (e.g., guidance document on the collection and use of gender data, change room guidelines) to support the application of the policy across the country.
About Ringette Canada
Ringette is a Canadian invention, proud of its special designation as a Heritage Sport. There are currently more than 32,000 players on nearly 2,000 teams across Canada, with over 1,500 officials and nearly 8,000 coaches. A True Sport Champion, ringette is also a leader in the Sport for Life movement, activating Sport Canada’s Long Term Development model. For more information, please refer to the Ringette Canada website at ringette.ca.
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Natasha Johnston (she/hers)