World Rugby’s decision to prevent transgender women from competing at the highest level of women’s rugby has been criticised by the Aberdeen Taexali Rugby Club.
Aberdeen Taexali describe themselves as “Grampian’s all-inclusive rugby team” having been founded in 2018 with the aim of promoting inclusivity for the LGBT community in Aberdeen.
The club’s welfare officer Brandon Jones is disappointed by new guidelines published by World Rugby on Friday which “do not recommend” transgender women play contact rugby “on safety grounds.”
Jones said: “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.”
Aberdeen Taexali were 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 with up to 27 players attending training.
The club has released an open letter to World Rugby saying the move could have a “devastating effect” on trans women.
It read: “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 International Gay Rugby, 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.”