BUCS Transgender Policy
British Universities & Colleges Sport (hereafter “BUCS”) endorses equality of access to sport and physical activity, and is committed to eliminating transphobia and all other forms of discrimination within university sport.
BUCS’ vision to enhance the student experience through sport applies to all students, irrespective of gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, marital status, pregnancy and maternity or trans-identity (including gender reassignment). BUCS will strive to ensure that everyone who wishes to be involved with BUCS’ program of competitive university sport across the UK is able to take part, and resolves to tackle any incidences of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia within BUCS competition.
BUCS prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression, and will assist members with any issues around eligibility to compete as a result of individuals’ transition and/or trans identity.
BUCS strives to abide by the following series of principles, to help encourage, support and facilitate transgender students’ participation in sport and physical activity at university:
- Transgender students should have equal opportunity to participate in sport and physical activity at university.
- Policies governing sport should be based upon sound medical and scientific validity, and should be objective, workable and practicable; they should also be written, available and equitably enforced.
- Policies governing the participation of transgender students in sport should comply with equality and diversity legislation protecting students in accordance with the Equality Act.
- Policies governing the participation of transgender students in sport should eliminate direct and indirect discrimination and ensure fair competition.
- The privacy interests of all students should be protected.
- The medical privacy of transgender students should be preserved.
Take A Stand
The launch of BUCS’ #TakeAStand campaign at BUCS AGM in December 2015 demonstrates BUCS’ commitment to promoting accessible and inclusive sport for all students within higher education.
The principle of equality in sport goes further than simply complying with legislation. It entails taking positive steps to counteract the barriers that restrict the opportunity for students to participate equally in sport.
BUCS encourages member institutions to work with their student sports clubs across the academic year to embody the Take A Stand campaign across their activity. The campaign’s charter and guidance document are two resources that members might look to consult, but please get in touch with the BUCS Executive on 020 7633 5080 to discuss how we can support your work further.
Rules and regulations implications
Delivering more than 50 sports as the national governing body (NGB) for university sport in the UK, BUCS does not hold expertise in each sport. With disparity between gender-affected sport1 and non-gender-affected2 sport, BUCS therefore recommends that where issues arise regarding transgender students’ eligibility, the policy of the respective sport’s national governing body should be adopted. BUCS recognises that some NGBs have comprehensive policies, whereas others are more limited, however in cases where domestic NGBs have not adopted a policy, then the international federation’s regulations should apply as detailed in regulation 4.3.1 within appendix 3.
Where international federations do not have a regulation regarding transgender athletes’ eligibility to compete, BUCS will establish due process to confirm transgender student athletes’ eligibility to participate in BUCS competition. Regulation 4.3 (see appendix 3), details how transgender students’ eligibility to participate in BUCS competitive structures is determined.
BUCS recognises the IOC guidelines published following the November 2015 Consensus Meeting of the International Olympic Committee’s Medical Commission3, but has designed regulation 4.3 to optimise inclusion and fair competition for all students.
Please note that BUCS will treat all personal information relevant to any assessments confidentially as per the Gender Recognition Act 20044.
1The Gender Recognition Act and the Equality Act refers to a “gender-affected” sport1, defined as one where “the physical strength, stamina or physique of average persons of one gender would put them at a disadvantage compared to average persons of the other gender as competitors in events involving the sport”. See appendix 2 for more detail.
2Please note, at the time of writing this policy, BUCS requested a list of gender-affected sports from the Sports Councils’ Equality Group via the Sport & Recreation Alliance, and were subsequently informed that no such list had been compiled at that moment in time.
3See appendix 2 for more detail regarding the November 2015 Consensus Meeting of the IOC’s Medical Commission.
4It is illegal under the Gender Recognition Act 2004 for a person who has acquired the information in an official capacity to disclose personal information about a transgender person’s gender history once they have applied for a gender recognition certificate or has been granted one, except with their explicit permission or in other very limited circumstances. Any information relating to a transgender person’s former gender (regardless of whether or not they have a Gender Recognition Certificate) is also likely to be classed as sensitive personal data under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Transgender participation in sport and physical activity at BUCS member institutions
BUCS would like to clarify that this policy applies only to BUCS’ competitive structures, and encourages all member institutions to encourage and enable transgender students’ participation in other competitive structures and in recreational and social sport or physical activity on their campus alongside regional or national BUCS competition.
Members are encouraged to consider the four points below where making a decision regarding transgender students’ participation in recreational or competitive sport at their university:
- If you think that a student is transgender, or are made aware that they are, does it matter?
- Do you absolutely feel that there is a concern/issue of unfair advantage or safety as a result of a transgender students’ participation?
- Can you observe that dangerous situations are occurring on the field of play and do you genuinely fear that a student participating may be hurt?
- Does this student have more physical capacity than is possible for any cisgender student of their gender, considering the potential impact of intensive training for cis/trans student athletes?
BUCS also encourages all member institutions to consider their facilitation of sport and physical activity for non-binary gender students, including the integration of gender-neutral toilets and changing facilities into plans for any facility developments. Gendered Intelligence (GI) provides a series of consultative services around this topic, have supported the Football Association and Royal Yachting Association on the development of their respective transgender inclusion policies, and have also been consulted by BUCS in the development of this policy.
The Higher Education sector’s Equality Challenge Unit also offers a number of resources regarding supporting transgender students during their time at university. They are currently producing an update of their guidance regarding transgender staff and students in HEIs, with Gendered Intelligence also supporting the development of this. This guidance document from the Government’s Equalities Office may also provide useful information and advice for any member who might be looking for further information on this matter.