The VUL is proud to support the participation of transgender and gender non-binary players in ultimate!
For more background on our approach, see our Announcement from April 2017.
See Glossary at the end for the definition of any terms that are new to you.
Perspective on Gender
Western society’s understanding of gender identity has changed and evolved significantly over the last few decades. As highlighted by QMUNITY, BC’s queer, trans and Two-Spirit resource centre: “While we have two common words for gender - man and woman or boy and girl – this does not mean that other genders do not exist. In fact, in a 2015 study out of the National Center for Transgender Equality, nearly 1/3 of respondents identified as non-binary – neither male nor female.”
We also seek to hold space for indigenous peoples, culture and language. First Nations cultures long ago had an understanding of individuals whose gender was beyond the binary – today referred to as Two-Spirit.
Other ultimate organizations have developed policies to incorporate transgender players. USA Ultimate and WFDF have adopted policies that focus on hormonal treatments and medical tests for evaluation. Given the recreational and community-based nature of our league, we have taken a different approach.
Legally in BC, someone is the gender they have stated they are. Individuals no longer require legal name changes, surgeries, or psychologist's notes to be acknowledged as their own felt gender. We hold that each individual is an expert in their own identity and that each individual ought to be empowered to identify, label and define themselves in ways that are healthiest and happiest for them.
Players in the VUL are able to choose how they participate based on their gender identity at that time, regardless of sex characteristics or where they may be in any transition between genders. We trust and will rely on Spirit of the Game to avoid any abuse of this approach by a player merely to gain a competitive advantage on the field.
This approach is supported through a number of policies and website features.
Where possible, we use inclusive language (e.g. players, people, etc) and avoid language that reinforces binary genders (e.g. men & women).
There are now two Gender fields in member profiles:
- The traditional Gender field includes Man and Woman plus additional options: “Another Gender” and “Prefer Not To Say”. This field is not shown publicly for privacy reasons. It will only be used internally by the VUL to help us develop programs and services for all members.
- A new Gender Matching field: “Based on your gender identity, which gender would you be most comfortable matching up against?” There are two options: Men and Women. We expect that transgender men will select Men, transgender women will select Women, and other genders will select the gender they are most comfortable with at that time.
- The selection for both fields can be changed at any time.
All website features that previously referred to Gender now use Gender Matching. These include team rosters, game attendance stats, and Matchmaker. These features now group players by the gender they are comfortable matching against, as opposed to their gender identity. This solution allows us to recognize and welcome players who do not identify as one of the two binary genders, while also allowing the matching process during games to be manageable.
On the field, we expect little difference in how games would work without these changes. With the gender balance rule, one endzone picks the gender ratio, and the other team matches. Captains can resolve any uncertainty about Gender Matches as they sometimes do already. Overall, we want people to participate equally in the sport and to play it safely and enjoyably, and we trust VUL members to make good decisions. If questions arise about what to do, teams can use Spirit of the Game and/or the Captain’s Clause to resolve it at that time, and Captains can let us know afterwards what occurred so that we can update our guidelines, if needed.
Women-only clinics and leagues are open to trans women and non-binary players.
For leagues where individuals can register on their own, we usually offer Duo and Trio options where 2 or 3 people can register together. To increase the number of women players, we have offered those options at a discount and require at least one person in each group to be a woman. Those options now reference the player’s Gender Matching choice, rather than their Gender identity.
Lastly, we have removed gendered language from our annual awards. Instead of offering male and female awards, we will offer awards to two people of different genders.
We believe our approach strikes a good balance, and we also acknowledge it may not be a perfect for everyone. If you have any questions or feedback, you can:
- contact Craig Woods, Executive Director, via firstname.lastname@example.org
- contact our QMUNITY contact, Joel Harnest, their Education & Training Coordinator, via email@example.com
- or comment in our Forum post.
To all members, we hope you'll join us in working to provide a safe and welcoming environment for everyone to play ultimate!
A summary of terms - provided by QMUNITY.
Cisgender: A term used to describe someone whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth.
Gender Binary: The view that there are only two distinct, opposite and static genders (man/woman; masculine/feminine; male/female; boy/girl) to identify with and express. While many societies view gender through this lens and consider this binary system to be universal, a number of societies recognize more than two genders.
Gender Identity: One's internal and psychological sense of oneself as a man, woman, in between, both or neither. Gender identity is explicitly different than one's sex assigned at birth (which is based on biological considerations including genitalia and genetic make-up).
Gender Expression: How one outwardly expresses gender. For example: name and pronoun choice; style of dress; voice modulation; etc. How one expresses gender might not reflect one's actual gender identity.
LGBTQ2S+: Acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer & 2-Spirit. The + denotes that there are many other identities and communities within the LGBTQ2S+ population that are not represented in these six words. Making fun of the length of this acronym can have a trivializing or erasing effect on the group(s) that longer acronyms seek to actively include.
Non-Binary: May describe someone who identifies as trans, and whose gender identity is neither male nor female, but outside of or beyond the binary. i.e. genderqueer; genderfluid; gender non-conforming; trans non-binary; etc.
Trans: An umbrella term that describes a wide range of people whose gender identity and/or expression differs from conventional expectation based on their assigned biological birth sex. Some of the many people who may or may not identify as trans include people on the male-to-female and female-to-male spectrums; people who identify/express their gender outside of the male/female binary; people whose gender identity/expression is fluid; and many more. Identifying as trans is something that can only be decided on by an individual for themselves and does not depend on criteria such as surgery or hormonal therapy.
Trans Man: May describe someone who identifies as trans and who identifies as a man.
Trans Woman: May describe someone who identifies as trans and who identifies as a woman.
Two-Spirit (2-Spirit): A term used by many Indigenous societies in North America to describe people with diverse gender identities, expressions, roles and sexual orientations. Two-Spirit people have been and are viewed differently in different Indigenous communities but were historically revered and understood as blessings bestowed unto communities. More recently, as a result of colonization and homophobia, Two-Spirit individuals have experienced marginalization and oppression within settler and indigenous communities.