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Gay Games Down Under: TG Policy Almost There

It’s a good feeling to see a registration form for entry into the 2002 Sydney Gay Games and be met with the following gender choices to tick:

  1. Male
  2. Female
  3. Transgender

The Gay Games are held every four years, and Sydney 2002 will mark the first time the event has ever been held in the southern hemisphere. From November 2nd through the 9th about 14,000 people will participate in 31 sporting events in over 40 venues across Sydney. Thousands more will participate in and witness some of the best of the arts through the Cultural Festival.

There will also be seven conferences around the country during that time which will cover issues such a trans health, medical intervention on intersexed children, and transgender activism in the US with particular focus on the treatment of lawbreakers. There will even be a slide show on the fluidity of gender, which recognizes increasing incidence of FtMs, and the controversial inclusion of ‘intersex’ in ‘transgender.’ A lot to take in? Maybe it’s about time and the Gay Games is giving the trans community a mainstream public platform of exposure, not only to the gay mainstream but to the sporting world.

Built on the principles of inclusion, participation, and personal best, the Games is open to everyone, regardless of sexuality, skill level, ability, HIV status, age, gender, race or ethnic background, or financial means. On June 23rd Sydney 2002 Co-Chair Bev Lange welcomed the 10,000th registration, putting the organization on track to achieving the 14,000 participants it is expecting. The event will bring tens of thousands of additional visitors to Australia and has been forecast to generate more than $100 million for the State economy.

Registrations have now been received from more than 50 countries. The biggest contingent is from the US (4,030), followed by Australia (1,900), Germany (920), and then Canada, The Netherlands, and the UK, with around 600 registrations each. Registrations have also been received from territories such as Antarctica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chad, China, Egypt, Lebanon, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vietnam. As of June 24th 133 trans participants had registered, so it promises to be the largest participation in terms of numbers for the global trans community.

Although Matt Jones, Media Manager for the Sydney Gay Games 2002 could not divulge the contents of the policy regarding transgender athletes at this time he did state “We are trying to make the policy as inclusive as possible. Unfortunately, because of the complexity of the issue and the need to consult widely, the policy is taking some time to finalize. I expect it to be ready by the end of the current month.” Matt also tells us that “the new transgender policy will be used as a model for sporting organizations around the world.”

“We are attempting to make the policy as inclusive as possible to Indigenous people and people from the Asian and Pacific region who ID as transgender and have no access (or intention) for surgical or hormonal intervention. Currently as long as a person has had their gender changed on their passport (internationally) and other identity documents locally, their participation will be for the specified event for that gender.”

“In Amsterdam in 1998 they had a transgender policy which was inclusive of post-op who had their papers changed. In Sydney what we are hoping to do is to also include FTM / MTF transgender participants who may be pre-op and have not had their papers changed, however we are also under our state laws here, and in making it inclusive as such, we are verging on being discriminatory, therefore we are trying with the help of some very generous solicitors… to word the policy to be as inclusive as we hope for it to be. I am sure you will be aware of the lack of transgender policy in sport generally,” stated Games media spokesperson, Suganthi Chandramohan.

“As it stands if people do query about joining in the Games and they are pre-op we are recommending they hold off until their participation in the preferred gender is supported by the gender policy that will be instated. If the sport they want to participate in is closed due to full numbers, we have allowance for that in our planning and their participation will still be accommodated as long as they can confirm that the lack of a gender policy is the only reason why they have not registered.”

The Policy is currently being drafted by Queens Council in Sydney Australia and has been made in “in consultation with” the Gender Center and the Australian Intersex Support Group. Sydney Gay Games are still in the process of finalizing the most extensive “Transgender in sport policy” ever written.

Although there were transgender participants in Amsterdam ’98. exact numbers are unavailable as several attempts to contact the “FEDERATION” were met with no response.

Sydney 2002 looks to be not only the most trans friendly Games to date but also the most active in terms of real action and participatory support for pre-op people. Let’s hope this is a sign of the things to come for us as not only a sporting group but as a movement gaining momentum and liberation.

Register to participate by the cut-off date of 31 July.

Opening Ceremony: 2 November 2002
Sport Festival: 2-9 November 2002
Closing Ceremony: 9 November 2002

Juan Lamas is a working class Latino/Hispanic Transgendered person. Auto-mechanic by day and closet writer by night, Juan is a published writer and playwright whose latest work will be seen in an upcoming book about transgender and gender variant folks. A dedicated trans activist, Juan is also the founder of the bi-lingual group Queer Latinos (For those born with female bodies who ID as transsexual, transgendered, intersexed, queerly gendered, 3rd gender, or Stone/Butch). Juan is an avid boxer and is also into weight training, kickboxing and off-street fighting.

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