As a board member of Proud 2 Play Jordan is a very integral part of Proud 2 Play’s operations. She is currently working in the policy and research for Transgender rights.
Her knowledge and lived experiences are a huge asset to Proud 2 Play, and we are so excited to get to hear from her in the lead up to Transgender Day of Visibility about her experiences in sport and physical activity.
What pronouns do you use?
How are you involved in sport or physical activity?
I played badminton pretty much through all my teen years, but these days I’m an occasional squash player and an obsessed boulderer. I climb as much as I can – up to four times a week, but sadly I can’t go as often now that I work full time.
What is the thing you enjoy most about playing sport or doing physical activity?
There’s a social aspect I really enjoy, particularly with climbing. But I think for me, the best part is how much it helps with my social and physical confidence and comfort. (And there’s been some cool research into it that shows I’m not the only trans person who experiences this, too!)
What is the most important thing about being involved sport or physical activity to you?
Beyond my answer to the last question, the most important thing is that it’s inclusive and welcoming.
Have you faced many barriers in being involved in sport and physical activity?
Not yet! There was this six-year period where I wasn’t really involved in sport or physical activity. By the time that period ended, I’d socially transitioned and developed a very low tolerance for discrimination. Consciously or not, I generally avoid anywhere with a hint of barriers.
What more could be done by sporting organisations, clubs, or sporting spaces to recognise the needs of Trans people and make them more visible in the conversation around sport?
A lot. There’s a lot of apprehension around. I think there’s an increasing desire in the sporting sector to do the right thing but also an apprehension to not mess up spectacularly. And then for trans and gender diverse people, there’s an apprehension of facing discrimination anywhere and everywhere, and because sport has such a focus on physique and bodies, that apprehension is high for sport. It’s even higher for non-binary people because sport at most levels is highly gendered.
It’s understandable for both sides, and organisations like Proud2Play have a role in helping the sporting sector become more comfortable in having the conversations and undertaking the initiatives needed to improve things. But the sporting sector also needs to be willing to be proactive and seek out organisations like Proud2Play.
I think one of the most important things is for the sporting sector to have clear, consistent and inclusive messaging on the ‘issue’ of and myths surrounding physique, strength and stamina (and these myths disproportionately affect those assigned male at birth). It’s fundamental to make clear that trans men are men and trans women are women. People should be allowed to compete as their gender, not as whatever was on the paperwork when they were born. Alongside this, the sporting sector needs to be willing to think more broadly than just single gender competitions.
How important is trans visibility in the sporting world?
Super important! It makes such a big difference seeing people like you out there and doing things and being rad at them. There’s this amazing feeling you get when you see representation of people like you (and this applies to all sorts of things – I get that feeling as much when I see Malaysian Chinese Australians being cool in the media as I do when I see trans or gender diverse people being cool in the media).
But more than that, the more diversity you have, the more diverse viewpoints you have. It’s like how multidisciplinary teams are really popular in workplaces these days. And for sporting clubs and organisations, that means better inclusion, planning and thinking.
How do we all achieve a playing field where all people regardless of their sex or gender are accepted in the sporting world?
A nice easy question to end on! I’ve heard a sort of chicken/egg thing here with whether society needs to be more accepting first or whether individual sectors need to be more accepting first. I think they’re symbiotic and parallel processes. We have to keep both the micro and macro levels in mind: work with big organisations and parties to make large scale change happen without forgetting to have those grassroots conversations about why equality and diversity matter.
It’s an incremental process and it’s more painful and difficult for some of us than it is for others, but that’s how acceptance and diversity and inclusion happen. And we’re slowly getting there. (We should also acknowledge at the same time that this can sometimes be cold comfort for those who’ve been fighting for years and decades.)