Quidditch UK
Quidditch UK

Trans and Non-Binary Inclusion

This page is a supplement to our Conduct Policy, a guide to including trans and non-binary people in the sport. Any questions or concerns about the issues raised here should be directed to the Volunteers Director or Equity, Diversion, and Inclusion Committee.

Updated: January 2022

Introduction

This guide is aimed at club leadership (presidents, managers, coaches) and tournament/league organisers to enable them to do their roles in an inclusive manner. However it’s written such that, hopefully, the advice can be applied by anyone hoping to make quidditch a better space for its players, volunteers, and community.

What is this guide not?

  • A document encapsulating the (non-existent concept that is the) universal trans/non-binary experience; 
  • In any way comprehensive, including all the nuances of the trans and non-binary discords;
  • A certification of inclusivity, or a pass to be non-inclusive in areas not covered by the guide;
  • A guide to trans or non-binary inclusion as part of other sports;
  • A guide to trans or non-binary inclusion as part of everyday life.

Definitions

Sex

Sex is biological and not generally relevant for quidditch. Male and female are generalised binary sex categories and don’t cover everyone, excluding intersex people for example. Estimates for the proportion of the population who are intersex range from 0.02% to 1.7%, depending on the definition used.

Gender

Gender meanwhile is about personal identity. Male and female are the binary genders and again don’t cover everyone. Someone’s gender may align with their sex, or it may not. Someone may express their gender through how they present, or they may not. The IQA’s gender maximum rule means that each team can have a maximum of four players who identify as the same gender in active play on the field at the same time.

Pronouns

Pronouns are how we refer to someone when not by name. Common pronouns are he/him/his, she/her/hers, and singular they/them/theirs. There are many less common pronouns (sometimes called Neopronouns) which include ze/zir/zirs, xe/xem/xyrs, and more. Someone’s pronouns may align with what you expect for their gender identity, or they may not (e.g. someone who’s male could use they/them/theirs, someone who is non-binary could use he/him/his, etc). Some people also use multiple sets of pronouns (e.g. she/they) or may have no preference (i.e. say that people can refer to them by any pronouns).

Non-binary

Non-binary is a term used both to refer to any gender that exists outside the gender binary (e.g. Charlie identifies as a non-binary gender) and to a specific gender identity outside the gender binary (e.g. Charlie identifies as non-binary). Both examples might be colloqiully stated as “Charlie is non-binary”.

Agender

Agender is an identity meaning without gender or ungendered. Not everyone who is agender also identifies as having a gender outside the gender binary (the former definition of non-binary above); such people have no gender.

Trans or Transgender

Trans or Transgender is a label which broadly refers to people whose gender is not the same as their assigned gender at birth (AGAB). You may also see the labels 'assigned female at birth' (AFAB) and 'assigned male at birth' (AMAB). Some agender and non-binary people identify with the label trans, others do not. Someone who is not trans or non-binary is Cis or Cisgender.

Transition

A trans or non-binary person may Transition, a process of changing expression of gender. This could involve social elements such as a change of name or pronouns, presentation elements such as a change in clothing, or physical elements, such as hormone therapy or surgery. A transition is equally valid regardless of which of these components it does or does not include. Unless invited it’s rude to enquire about someone’s transition.

Misgendering

Misgendering is referring to someone's gender incorrectly. This might be by using incorrect pronouns, implying they are part of a gender binary identity when they are not, or using other gendered labels to refer to them. Misgendering is still misgendering even if the person being misgendered is not present or unaware.

Deadnaming

Deadnaming is referring to a trans or non-binary individual by a previous name they used, typically the name they used before coming out as trans or non-binary. This is distinguished from forgetting someone’s name or mixing up the names of two people.

Microagression

Unintentionally misgendering or deadnaming someone is typically considered a Microaggression: casual slights or indignities that people who are marginalised experience frequently from people in daily life.Intentionally or otherwise repeatedly misgendering or deadnaming is a serious breach of respect and expected conduct and will likely lead to further action being taken.

Respecting Pronouns and Gender

It should never be required that someone share their pronouns, even as part of an icebreaker exercise. Instead, if you are comfortable, share your pronouns when telling someone your name. This indicates to others that this is a safe environment where they can share their pronouns.

If you do not know someone’s pronouns you should refer to them using they/them/theirs until you do. Once you are told someone’s pronouns you should make an effort to remember them and associate that person with those pronouns, rather than defaulting on using gender neutral pronouns for everyone.

Pronouns should not be referred to as preferred pronouns. Pronouns are not a preference someone has, they are part of that person's identity. Someone may indicate a preference for a specific set of pronouns (e.g. “I’m fine with they/them or he/him, but I prefer he/him”) but this is not true in general.

“Forgetting” someone’s pronouns or gender is not a valid excuse for repeatedly misgendering them, especially if you have never known that person by any other pronouns or gender. When someone tells you their pronouns or gender you should show them the basic courtesy of internalising that as part of their identity, as you would when being introduced to a young child or a pet for the first time.

During Games

When playing with the full IQA rulebook, including the gender maximum rule,  those responsible for a team (coaches, captains, etc) should ask their players if there’s anyone the referees could migender. Explicitly, this should not include only non-binary players. At this point any players who think this might be the case for them should make themselves known to that responsible person, who will in turn inform the referees for that game.

When those referees are from outside the club (e.g. at a tournament or friendly), they have a responsibility to be respectful with this information. This means trying to internalise it and if unsure discreetly enquiring. To aid this at large events, organisers could provide the referee table with a list of players for each match and the genders they play as for the purposes of the sport. If this is done, the information should not be shared widely.

Splitting Non-Binary

People who identify as the same non-binary gender should not be further classified based on their assigned gender at birth. There are a broad number of factors that play into someone’s identity including but not limited to sex, hormones, socialisation, and expression.

Similarly, all non-binary people should not be grouped as being the same 'third' gender; non-binary is a very broad umbrella which can include people who are agender, bigender, demigender, genderfluid, and more. This also applies when assessing gender on pitch for purposes of upholding the rules; having five players from a team on pitch who identify as non-binary genders would not necessarily be breaking the gender rule.

Some people who identify outside the gender binary (e.g. those who are bigender or genderfluid) may also have part of a binary gender as part of their identity all or some of the time. It is important to be considerate of this factor when planning activities where gender plays a part and to clarify with them how they wish to identify for the purposes of the game.

Gender-Targeted Events

There are many reasons someone might want to plan an event catering to individuals of particular genders or experience. A common example is running workshops on contact for players who didn’t have experience doing so at school because of their assumed gender. Another is hosting an event which caters to players who, due to sexism, are typically underutilised in the sport due to their presentation or body.

When organising events that are only for women, non-binary people are excluded (or at least the impression of excluding is given). Quidditch prides itself on being a trans and non-binary inclusive sport, so organisers usually do want to include non-binary people. However, being mindful of language is very important here since the wording or eligibility criteria used can be discriminatory or exclusionary.

Here are some example labels or eligibility criteria to avoid:

  • Women, Trans Women, and Non-Binary implies that trans women are not women, which is a common discriminatory and transphobic viewpoint.
  • Women and AFAB implies that all AFAB non-binary people are “women-lite” and also excludes people it was likely meant to include by unnecessarily splitting non-binary people by AGAB. For example, both scenarios above would likely want to include an AMAB non-binary person who has physically and socially transitioned, but they would be excluded by this criteria.
  • Womxn is a label that can variously refer to women, women and non-binary people, and women and AFAB non-binary people. It’s criticised variously for implying trans women are not women, implying all AFAB non-binary people are 'women-lite', and generally being unclear.
  • Non-Male; don’t define people by what they’re not. See also, non-cis, non-straight, not-white, etc.

Women and Non-Binary is generally safe, broad phrasing. Do bare in mind though that if you’re seeking to address a specific issue, this doesn’t include trans men who may also experience the same disadvantage.

Recommended Phrasing

When planning such events QUK suggests using as broad a label as possible (or even none at all) and being explicit in the issue the event is aiming to address. For example:

  1. This tournament is for women and non-binary players. It’s aimed at those who, due to sexism within the sport (structural, cultural, and individual), are not given proportionate training or pitch time.
  2. This contact training is aimed at players who, due to sexism within the education system, had no or little experience with contact sports prior to quidditch.

This should be policed with a degree of trust. Looking at the tournament in the first scenario as an example, if an AMAB non-binary person signed up they should be trusted to have understood the intended audience and judged correctly they fall into it. They should not be expected to prove they are “non-binary enough” to the organisers or otherwise asked to give examples of when they’ve faced discrimination in the sport.

If a player is found to have abused this trust for personal gain it should be reported to QUK, and will be treated as seriously as any player who misleads referees regarding their gender to exploit the gender rule.

When planning such events or discussing the issues of marginalised players more generally, it’s important to keep the language used inclusive. Consider whether what you’re about to say is unnecessarily excluding some non-binary people, intersex people, or even trans men who may face the same marginalisation.

Gendered Positioning

It’s not uncommon for captains and coaches to structure their sub-rotations based on gender to reduce the possibility of breaking the gender rule during a game. A typical example might be having one “male” beater rotation, one “female” beater rotation, two “male” quaffle rotations and two “female” quaffle rotations, with non-binary players being “slotted in” wherever there are gaps.

This should be done with extreme care since it’s a practice that unintentionally, but easily, can disadvantage or deny opportunities to marginalised players. Examples of questions captains and coaches using such practice should ask themselves:

  1. Is this structure forcing marginalised players to play specific positions? (e.g. beater and wing chaser)
  2. Could this rotation’s structure or name lead to one of our players being misgendered?
  3. Have these rotations been structured to give us the minimum required representation?
  4. Are non-binary players being “othered” by the structure of our sub rotations?
  5. Are non-binary players being split into AFAB and AMAB by the subrotations?

Alternatives to gender-based sub-rotations include rotations based on skillset, stamina, or random within position. In such cases it might be helpful to have someone in the sub box (a non-playing coach, friend of the team, etc) making sure a given substitution doesn't break gender.

Gender-based sub-rotations is seen at the highly competitive end of the sport, but is also seen in smaller clubs who struggle with balanced recruitment when it seems like using gendered positioning is the only way to play a valid roster.

In all situations, the intent of this section is to prompt club leadership to consider these questions (and others like them) and reflect on steps they need to take to mitigate the unintended consequences it can have. An example reflection can be found in this post from 2018, written by Sheffield Quidditch Club’s then-Coach.

Other Resources

QUK also has a guide for club leadership on more generally making an inclusive environment, including practical advice for socials, training sessions, etc. This was written as part of the Bitesize Guides series.

A larger glossary including definitions relating to gender can be found on Stonewall’s website. They also have a Truth About Trans post in which they answer some of the common questions people have about trans issues and identity. On misgendering specifically, it might be useful to read this guide by Healthline (written by a non-binary person) or this more academic one by Harvard Health. Vox have also published a more thorough, general guide on microaggressions, what they are and how to avoid perpetrating them.