Thinking beyond the binary: Barriers to trans* participation in university sport

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Abstract

Sport is a significant part of university life in the UK, where students may try new sports for the first time. Research also demonstrates links between sport participation and mental health and employment prospects. Despite the positive aspects of university sports, by mimicking wider sport practices, they may also be environments that exclude non-normative bodies, including those who are trans*. The experiences of trans* people in sport is still a limited research area, with existing studies suggesting a range of exclusionary practices are evident. However, it is currently unclear to what extent these practices are replicated in the university sport environment across institutions in the UK. As part of a broader study on LGBT+ inclusion in UK university sport, focus groups with student union officers and LGBT+ students were conducted, with one student identifying as trans*. Data derived from the trans* student, alongside the viewpoints of officers, suggests further action can be taken to ensure university sport is inclusive to all, particularly in regard to the reliance on wider binary gender structures in sport, which are also evident in the British Universities and Colleges Sport transgender policy. This research may be useful for student unions, university sport clubs and other bodies in control of sport provision to increase inclusion for all.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review for the Sociology of Sport
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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Sports
participation
university
student union
student
inclusion
sports policy
sports club
mental health
gender

Cite this

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title = "Thinking beyond the binary: Barriers to trans* participation in university sport",
abstract = "Sport is a significant part of university life in the UK, where students may try new sports for the first time. Research also demonstrates links between sport participation and mental health and employment prospects. Despite the positive aspects of university sports, by mimicking wider sport practices, they may also be environments that exclude non-normative bodies, including those who are trans*. The experiences of trans* people in sport is still a limited research area, with existing studies suggesting a range of exclusionary practices are evident. However, it is currently unclear to what extent these practices are replicated in the university sport environment across institutions in the UK. As part of a broader study on LGBT+ inclusion in UK university sport, focus groups with student union officers and LGBT+ students were conducted, with one student identifying as trans*. Data derived from the trans* student, alongside the viewpoints of officers, suggests further action can be taken to ensure university sport is inclusive to all, particularly in regard to the reliance on wider binary gender structures in sport, which are also evident in the British Universities and Colleges Sport transgender policy. This research may be useful for student unions, university sport clubs and other bodies in control of sport provision to increase inclusion for all.",
author = "Catherine Phipps",
year = "2019",
language = "English",
journal = "International Review for the Sociology of Sport",
issn = "1012-6902",
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