Inclusion of trans women in grassroots sport: webinar recap

The second #StandUp4Equality webinar tackled the topic of inclusion of trans women in sport. The event was held online, on Wednesday 7 September 2022, and organised by the ENGSO EWS (Equality Within Sport) Committee.

The webinar was opened by the ENGSO President Stefan Bergh who welcomed the participants and highlighted the importance of inclusion and equality within the European grassroots sport community.


Three expert guests joined Sarah Townsend, Co-President of the European Gay and Lesbian Sport Federation (EGLSF), member of the ENGSO EWS Committee and the moderator of the webinar, to bust the myths and controversy surrounding the inclusion of trans women in sport.


Joanna Harper, from Loughborough University mentioned the search for “meaningful competition” when discussing the concept of advantages in sport. She has been studying transgender athletes for several years and is the firstauthor of four peer-reviewed papers on the subject. She exposed the misconceptions on the participation of trans women in sport, who are wrongly represented as a “threat to sport” when she pointed out that in reality, “transwomen are still massively under-represented in women’s sport”.

European sport.

6acfa9 3427e088b0464beebad4335bcf406caa Mv2

Dr. Madeline Pape, Inclusion specialist at IOC, and a sociologist of gender at the University of Lausanne, presented the framework on fairness, inclusion and non-discrimination the International Olympic Committee has released last year. She said that International Sport Federations should think about “what could be the potential consequences of the regulations”, because “we have a responsibility as sport organisations to safeguard the well-being of athletes”.

6acfa9 3db964e8240d4979a302e4c6ff40aaae Mv2

Last but not least the audience had a chance to hear the personal story of Natalie Washington, football player and activist, who among other topics also addressed issues of safety in a sports environment that often still feels hostile for vulnerable groups such as trans women. She advocates for the right of all individuals to be active and to participate, leaving a message to sport organisations: “do not put more barriers in their way, but encourage them (transwomen) to participate!”

6acfa9 E8a3b5fd85124a11b6ce65340d22d2d6 Mv2

Sallie Barker, the Chair of ENGSO EWS Committee concluded the webinar by announcing the publishment of the learning document “Learnings from the on-going discussion on inclusion of trans women in sport” that was developed by the committee members and where readers can find contextualisation elements and resources on the topics presented during the webinar.

“Learnings from the on-going discussion 

on inclusion of trans women in sport

The next steps: presentation of the results from the Equality in Sport survey in October, at the 2022 edition of the European Sport Platform in Arnhem, Netherlands.