Today marks the 2023 International Day of Trans Visibility, and so we’d like to shine a light on the trans heroes in our communities!
Friday 31st March marks the 2023 International Day of Trans Visibility. It marks a time to celebrate trans and non-binary people, and to raise awareness of the discrimination faced by the community worldwide.
It also provides an opportunity for trans and non-binary people to feel seen through positive and realistic representation – and for allies to learn more about how they can stand in solidarity. Visibility is crucial. It allows communities to bloom, and for people with shared lived experiences to form bonds across borders.
There are around 4,082 people in Lincolnshire who identify as trans, non-binary, or a gender they weren’t assigned at birth. This works out at every 1 in 200 people in the county.
In a recent study by Mermaids, 52% of trans people surveyed feel their gender identity has impacted on them taking part in sport, and a third of trans people surveyed are worried about taking part in sport because of negative media stories about trans inclusion.
This week, we hosted a Trans Inclusion LGBTQ+ Workshop and was fortunate enough to be joined by Daisy Ball, a student at the University of Lincoln, who shared her story about being transgender in sport and wider society.
Who are you?
My name is Daisy and I identify as female, but I have got transgender experience as I’m currently transitioning from male to female. I’m 21 years old and I’m currently in my third year at the university of Lincoln.
What’s your story?
As of today, it’s been around 6 months since I began transitioning. The reason I am transgender is because although I was born as male, throughout my life since I was about 8 years old, I’ve felt internally as a woman with my feelings and how I view the world, and with this comes wanting my physical body to change as well.
When I was younger, I didn’t know what being transgender meant, I didn’t even know it was a word! I was brought up in a family that although caring towards me most of the time, were very shut off to the world and held many outdated views around gender, sexuality, and race. This meant I wasn’t aware or educated around these topics until I was in my teens, but I’ve only had the confidence now to really adopt my true self due to being in my own home away from judgemental people, and surrounded by friends at university that are welcoming of who I am.
It’s important to understand that men and women have stereotypes for sure that have changed a lot through history, for example, because I identify as female, it doesn’t mean I hold all the characteristics of a “typical” female.
I personally believe anybody can be whoever they want to be as long as it makes them happy to be honest. This can be challenging for someone who is early in their transition, as you constantly feel like you’re being judged as you don’t look like the stereotypical “female” or “male”, which can often lead to me being misgendered and getting called “sir” or “him”. Someone who is not trans, may not see how impactful this can be, but it can cause the person to spiral into so many different emotions, and there are times where I’ve got so anxious I cannot do the things I want to do, and it’s even difficult to leave the house without feeling like you may be judged. However, this has been improving as I continue my transition.
What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis?
Once you start your transition to a different gender, it’s only then you realise how difficult some things can be. Things from navigating healthcare, going to the shops, getting documentation changed, and shopping for clothes. After navigating these challenges which can sometimes cause stress, playing football to just be yourself and have fun can have such an impact on my mental health. Transitioning has been one of the best things I’ve decided to do in my life, but because of the views of other people, it has also been the most challenging, leading to lots of anxiety and low points.
What’s your relationship like with football?
A few months after I began my transition, I realised that for many years I had missed out on the opportunity to play football. Football was a sport I enjoyed so much growing up, playing with my dad, then being part of a boys’ team for a few years between the ages of 12 and 15. I never stopped playing football on the school field and the playground. Even though I enjoyed the sport back then, I still felt quite different and excluded because my personality didn’t match that of the people in the team. Therefore, now that I feel comfortable with myself, I decided a few months to join the University of Lincoln Women’s Football Team. The group were incredible!
I turned up for my first session and instantly the girls welcomed me, and I became close to a few of the players. It was nice to just train with them and ever since I’ve been attending sessions, improving my ability, but also making connections with others. Joining in with the University team has brought me so much joy – and it’s not just the football but making friends too. I love team sports so much because it allows me to be part of a group, I’ve felt like I always belong to.
What challenges do you face in football?
There are some restrictions in FA policies that result in some transgender players, such as myself, from not being able to play competitively in a different team other than the team that’s gender is the same as the one I was assigned at birth. This means for me currently because I haven’t taken hormones to change my body’s hormones from testosterone to estrogen, that I cannot play “competitive football”. This is considered on a case-by-case basis, but it’s quite frustrating sometimes when the reason you’re playing is not to always win, but to improve your mental health and have fun with people around you – no matter what the end game result is.
It’s also difficult, as for someone like myself, my ability on the field is not always much different sometimes from some of the other girls around me and I’ve also played for some teams where the girls are just on a completely other level to me and it makes me so proud to see this, as growing up I could see women excluded from football so much, and it was upsetting to see. But seeing some women’s teams play now makes me so happy to see the progression that has occurred in UK football.
Even though there are currently talks about changing this policy within the FA, it’s vital we do as much as we can to include trans players where possible, even in training sessions or friendlies. This doesn’t just affect trans people, but it also affects women too. The current FA policy stands based on concerns of ability and strength in comparison to women, but this is so subjective, and it almost also suggests women must be a specific amount weaker than men to be classed as a woman.
Why is trans inclusion so important?
Inclusion for transgender individuals is so important in my view as everyone should have the opportunity to feel good and use exercise and sport as a way of improving their mental and physical wellbeing – this can be even more important for trans people who face many difficulties in their life, especially in their early transition. Football is a fun and enjoyable sport, that can be competitive at times, but it’s important to remember that some people just want to exercise, some want to learn new skills, and there are those who want to play competitively as well.
Trans people usually want to fit in and feel a sense of belonging and shouldn’t be treated any differently to anybody else on the team. I’m proud to say that the University team I currently play for treat me as if I’ve been a woman all my life and that’s exactly what I want and how I feel. Excluding groups from football, even unintentionally have such a detrimental effect on people’s mental health, as well as friendships that could be formed through sport. Overall, everyone has a responsibility to making people feel included.
For more information on what Lincolnshire FA are doing to make football safer, more enjoyable, and more inclusive in our communities, please visit https://www.lincolnshirefa.com/inclusion.