Despite clear evidence on the physical differences between males and females, the LGFA have opted to centre males in their new Transgender Policy. This is a huge betrayal of their grass roots players and management. Furthermore, the policy gives no guidance to clubs on handling the complexities of this area. There is no mention of girls and women who identify as trans or non-binary and how they might be accommodated, no mention of safeguarding, and no clear system for risk assessment.
Read the full statement from The Countess below.
With the release of its Transgender Policy, the Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) has damaged its reputation as an organisation that values female sport and has completely abandoned safety and fairness for women and girls.
The policy comes 8 months after a male player took to the field during a Junior E club level semi-final. Despite protests from the referee, from the opposing team managers and from the opposing team players, a trans identified male, who goes by the name of Giulia Valentino, was allowed to play. The incident sparked a lot of negative comment at the time, but the content of this new policy has come as a total shock.
The founder and CEO of The Countess, Laoise de Brún, says, “It is unforgivable to do this to female players; the science is very clear that changing testosterone levels has no significant impact on male physical attributes such as height, speed, or strength. Gaelic football is a very physical game with a high risk of injury and this policy puts female players at even higher risk of harm, not to mention the inherent unfairness for women and girls.”
The policy will allow boys aged 12 to 15 who identify as girls to apply to play ladies Gaelic football with just a statement from a GP and parental consent (the policy doesn’t mention the consent of the other players or parents).
Men who identify as women can play ladies Gaelic football once they have a Gender Recognition Certificate or a statement from a GP saying the player has: “Transitioned/or is transitioning (as appropriate) from male to female and intends on living their life as a female,” and “during the previous 12 months, has a total testosterone level in serum equal to or less than 10 nanomoles per litre (nmol/L).” This is at least 5–10 times the usual female level.
There is no requirement for this testosterone testing to be independently carried out, and evidence of it is not required, unless requested by the LGFA. No definition is provided in the policy for “transition” but it is understood that this can range from merely stating one is the opposite sex to undergoing surgery (as happens in fewer than 5% of cases).
This policy is totally out of line with international best practice (as devised by World Rugby after a 2-year study) and places the wishes of males firmly above the rights and safety of females.
With many volunteers, supporters and parents of young female players expressing concern, some are saying they will no longer allow their daughters to play with or against males, and that it would be safer for them to play rugby, which remains single sex. The IRFU has followed World Rugby guidelines where males must compete in the male category, regardless of gender identity.
LGFA have not disclosed their consultation process but it is a matter of public record that TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland) advised the GAA on matters related to trans inclusivity. It seems the 10 nmol/L cut-off was drawn from outdated International Olympic Committee recommendations. These have since been revised, and many prominent scientists in this area discount the use of testosterone levels as evidence of reduced male advantage at all. The cascade of physical changes that occur during male puberty confers the physical advantage, not testosterone alone.
It is difficult to see where the voices of women were in the development of this policy. In the Countess Red C poll of July 2021, only 21% of respondents were in favour of men who identify as women being allowed to compete in women’s sports. Therefore the LGFA policy would seem to be completely at odds with public opinion.
A spokesperson from the Countess Sports Working Group has analysed the policy and states, “This policy is a total shambles, there is no list of stakeholders, no evidence to back it up, no definitions, nothing! It does not mention the case for trans or non-binary identified females who are playing LGFA at all. I would be ashamed to produce such a shoddy document.”
The Countess Sports Working Group’s core belief is that sport is at its heart about competition, fairness and participation. This policy will destroy all of that for women and girls in ladies Gaelic football and we urge the LGFA to delay implementation and engage with stakeholder groups such as ourselves at the Countess.
There are many questions to be answered about this policy, including what research was used to create it, how were statutory obligations around safeguarding considered, what consultation was done with players and other groups, and who actually created it. We would also be interested to know if this policy reflects the values of their core sponsor, Lidl.
The Countess is urging all concerned players, club members, county boards, and parents to demand the revision of this policy as a matter of urgency.
Please use our template letter at the link below to contact the LGFA to voice your objection.