Sheffield MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, Miriam Cates, has sent a letter to the Football Association co-signed by 48 MPs calling for rule changes on transgender women playing in women’s football.
The letter says: “All sports rely on fair competition. Teams or individuals must compete as far as possible on a level playing field.
“This is why football, like the vast majority of sports, segregates players by age and sex, to eliminate unfair advantages of size and strength and of course to ensure the safety of all players.”
This comes after reports of multiple teams in Yorkshire refusing to play against a Rossington Main Ladies’ transgender player after an opposition player allegedly suffered a “broken knee” in an on-field incident with the footballer, according to the letter to the FA.
Rossington Main Ladies club posted a now-deleted statement from the transgender player. The post said: “As some of you may have heard, Rossington Main Ladies FC has faced challenges from teams unwilling to play against us while I am on the field.
“This unfortunate circumstance has prompted me to investigate pursuing a case of discrimination, as I believe it represents a breach of the code of conduct regarding diversity and inclusion, as well as safeguarding of adults in football established by both the Football Association and the Sheffield and Hallamshire Women and Girls League.”
Peers of the House of Lords also signed the letter which states that there should be even standards in participation within women’s football and allowing transgender women to play defeats that purpose.
Heather Paterson, Chief Executive Officer of SAYiT, a charity that provides support for young LGBTQ+ people in Sheffield discussed how MP Miriam Cates’ stance against inclusivity of trans people is why she is pushing for this rule change which “really distracts from a genuine issue” of support of the women’s game.
Heather said: “Miriam Cates has a very particular political viewpoint on this and she’s expressed strong views on trans issues in education.
“To my knowledge I’ve never known Miriam Cates to be actively involved in discussions around sports science so it very clearly comes from her views on trans people rather than a particular interest in sports safety and inclusion.
“There’s legitimate conversations to be had to improve sport in general, and football in particular, for women but I don’t think it’s an issue because of the tiny number of trans people.”
The FA’s policy on trans people in football outline how footballers are allowed to play for their “affirmed gender” if they can show “hormonal therapy appropriate for the assigned sex has been administered in a verifiable manner and for a sufficient length of time, or the individual has had a gonadectomy.”
However, these rules are in place to limit the advantages of gender within football and are reviewed based on each case adhering to the directives above.
Women’s sports campaigning group, Fair Play for Women, support the letter sent by MP Miriam Cates and told Sheffield Wire:
“This has gone on far too long and it’s female players who are losing out. No one can claim they don’t know it’s a problem. Women’s football can’t include male players, it’s really not complicated.
If the FA really want to grow the women’s game, they need to say no to the male players who are taking places in women’s teams and making the game unfair and unsafe.”
The Sheffield Wire has reached out to MPs who have signed the letter for comment.