Alice Springs City Council has denounced transphobia and expressed its support for diversity and inclusion in all sporting codes.
Most important points:
- Alice Springs councilors unanimously agreed to support diversity and inclusion in sport
- Councilor Kim Hopper brought the motion to council after contacting community members
- The declaration has been celebrated by the local trans community
It acknowledged in a statement that members of the transgender community were faced with exclusion from sport and said it was unacceptable that some people would feel unwelcome or unsafe in the community as a result.
“Diversity and inclusion are part of sport,” the statement said.
“Everyone living in Alice Springs should be able to participate in sport and physical activity in a welcoming and inclusive way – regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ability, cultural background, ethnicity, location or stage of life.”
The statement was released amid an international debate about transgender women competing at the highest levels in sport, with multiple international governing bodies banning or limiting the participation of transgender athletes.
But the council’s statement was months in the making after members of the transgender community called for local leadership and support during the federal election campaign.
Resident Teddy McDiarmid said it was a response to what was happening in federal politics at the time and to the gross transmisogyny and transphobia being used as political fodder.
Teddy said recent restrictions on transgender athletes have “real implications” for transgender people and their mental health.
Teddy said the council’s statement made him hopeful that young transgender people would be admitted in a way that makes them feel safe.
“I’m tired of seeing trans women in the media and in the world being held up as something to be feared and something to ignore,” Teddy said.
Council strives for inclusion
Alice Springs City Councilor Kim Hopper filed a motion with City Council requesting that they issue a statement of support for the transgender community and organize educational workshops for city officials.
The motion was supported by all nine councillors.
“It was really reassuring to know that we could have a respectful conversation at the local government level.
“The Council comes out and says that we want to be a beacon of inclusion and diversity and that we want our sports organizations to go with us.”
Ms Hopper said she was approached by the mother of a young transgender in the city, who thanked her for showing leadership on the matter.
“Essentially, it’s also suicide prevention techniques, to come out and say we’re not going to support the calls that come out and really attack people in our community,” Ms Hopper said.
She said the statement could eventually lead to an inclusion policy by the city council.
Just the beginning
Nic Carson plays in a local queer and trans-inclusive basketball league in Alice Springs.
“There are many barriers to inclusion for transgender people who want to participate in sports and if there aren’t any, we create our own spaces and our own communities,” she said.
“Registration can be a huge (obstacle) – with just a man (or) woman, two boxes they force everyone into if you try to sign up.”
She said a lack of facilities such as gender neutral bathrooms was also an issue.
She said everyone had something to gain from improving amenities and access, not just for trans and gender diverse people.
She welcomed the council’s statement and called on the Northern Territory’s sports leagues and the territory’s government to follow suit.
“Hopefully this is the first of many,” she said.
Read the full statement from Alice Springs City Council here.
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