New Gender Policy Ensures More Cute Girls Will Be Doing Roller Derby

There are few things that sound like more fun than drinking and watching girls in shorts glide around a ring, and around, and around, and around…

Well, anyway. Whether you’re into derby, a champion roller derby player, an avid fan, a screaming fangirl, a pissed off activist, or the kid outside the roller derby rink smoking cigarettes, even you can appreciate the recent changes the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association made to its gender policy. It’s more inclusive now – which means more girls going round / round / round!

The WFTDA is an authority on roller derby, and works to educate people on the rules and get more people involved in leagues. In other words, they want to keep roller derby alive and well. And, well, there was this little problem going on where trans women felt excluded by the WFTDA’s gender policies, and the idea that a woman-exclusive sport was only for some women if you get what I mean.

So the WFTDA fixed it head-on, and they adopted a new, progressive gender policy that is inclusive to trans and intersex women. The member leagues voted to adopt a common definition of “female,” one that would relate to the sport. The new policy, which has been in the works since 2008, involved other sports groups, government and other legal counsel, academics, and medical experts in its formation. The final verdict?

Recognizing that there are many definitions of “female,” the policy clearly defines what the term means for the purposes of WFTDA-sanctioned competition. It states that a female is someone “living as a woman and having sex hormones that are within the medically acceptable range for a female,” to include male-to-female transgender and intersex persons.

WHAT! AWESOME! So in order to play in the WFTDA you have to live as a woman. In order to play a woman’s sport you have to live as a woman. This sound great and common sense-y. And to make WFTDA even more approachable, the new policy also does not require the transgender athletes show any documentation of their gender – and, if an issue is raised, that all the paperwork and other things will be handled in a way that is private and relies on a medial expert of her choosing. The WFTDA does not want to make this hard for anyone.

If you want to play roller derby well then, god damn it, get in that rink.

The policy will go into effect January 1, 2012 and applies to skaters on member leagues’ 20-person WFTDA-chartered teams (the teams that compete for WFTDA rankings and tournament eligibility).

And now, pictures of Ellen Page doing roller derby:

all this could be yours

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. Though this policy formally takes effect in 2012, many city leagues have similar policies already in place: like Montreal!

    Want to see this inclusiveness in action? Beast of the East is next weekend!

    If you can’t get to Montreal, will be broadcasting some bouts live!

    Check it out!

    • This is a great international policy and glad to see that Montréal had already adopted it!

      can’t wait for best of the east!

  2. ” It states that a female is someone “living as a woman and having sex hormones that are within the medically acceptable range for a female,” to include male-to-female transgender and intersex persons.”

    Sorry to trouble your wording, Carmen, but I have to.

    “WHAT! AWESOME! So in order to play in the WFTDA you have to live as a woman. In order to play a woman’s sport you have to live as a woman. This sound great and common sense-y.”

    I think this is a progressive step for sure, but I’m SURE I’m not the only person concerned about women who are not yet getting hormone treatment but still consider themselves to be women. Do they count? That part might not be so “common sense-y.”

    …Not that this sounds like it really matters, if women aren’t being asked to formally document their gender identity. Except “…if an issue is raised, [at which point] all the paperwork and other things will be handled in a way that is private and relies on a medial expert of her choosing.” Which would presumably be less difficult to attain? I guess? This wording seems to me to read that something like this would rarely happen, and that anyone could “beat the system” or whatever by just picking someone to back their opinion up.

    So I guess the more important question is this: does the medical expert have to be a hormone doctor? How about a psychologist? A therapist? Not sure about this one, since I didn’t read the originally published results.

    But if that’s basically the case, and women rarely have to PROVE their woman-hood in any difficult way (or can pick a doctor to do this) why bother with the pseudo-scientific “medically-acceptable” jargon? It seems like “living as a woman” here would be sufficient and less offensive.

    • You’re not the only one concerned, these policies are put up to vote and some leagues dissented for the exact reasons you listed.

    • ***I am a skater in a WFTDA league but I am not individually affiliated with WFTDA in any way and my opinions should not be taken as representative of the organization (except when quoting WFTDA’s own language, of course)***

      The person to provide the statement regarding hormone levels must be a “healthcare provider,” defined in the policy as: “A licensed practitioner who provides healthcare to patients independently or pursuant to the prescription of a healthcare provider as recognized by his/her state regulatory agency. Includes (a) doctors of medicine or osteopathy authorized to practice medicine or surgery under State law, and (b) Nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, and physician’s assistants authorized to practice under State law and performing within the scope of their practice as defined under State law.”

      And, all they have to attest to is that the person in question has sex hormone levels “within the medically acceptable range for a female. It is solely within the healthcare provider’s judgment to determine what range is “medically acceptable” for a female.”

      Regarding your last question: this policy only applies to officially sanctioned inter-league competition (i.e. not at the local level, where leagues can create their own policies), which is taken very seriously. Derby has no professional level at this point, but within the flat-track world that is what WFTDA-sanctioned play is analogous to. Some leagues/teams/skaters are concerned with the competitive advantage of male (“male”) sex hormones. In my own personal opinion, it is discriminatory and witch-hunt-y to act as though trans skaters are going to invade and competitive fairness all out of whack by completely dominating. However, I appreciate the simplicity of the policy’s wording, saying that any licensed healthcare provider has final authority in assessing the “appropriateness” of someone’s hormone levels.

    • This issue is raised strictly so that cis-men do not play women’s sports under the muse of being transwomen. It sucks, but that is the reason for it.

      If the transwomen have respectable doctors I don’t think there would be an issue, of them saying their levels aren’t up to par and get them kicked out.

      Also eventually (most) transwomen plan to go on estrogen, so it would be a matter of time.

      TLDR- The system sucks but its better than it could have been.

    • Right so, I’m down with hormones being a qualifier for trans people in sports. That’s the effective difference between competitors. Your genetics decide the rest. I rock climb. I can definitely say my climbing has changed drastically since starting HRT. Suddenly, I can’t campus. I tweak my wrists out way more because I try (and fail) to just monkey bar up routes still, but I can’t now. Now I have to use my hips and (whooda thunk) climb like all my girlfriends do.

      Trail running is more fun too, but for different reasons that have nothing to do with my tits.

  3. I dunno, some of the implications of this are inclusive and awesome, but the language is also a bit binding. There are some trans guys on my “Women’s Rugby” team who aren’t on T and would meet the hormonal requirement set out here, but they sure don’t identify as or “live as women”. These guys are our team members (we like to think of ourselves as a motley collection of random folks who happen get together to play “women’s” rugby) and it feels like the language of this roller derby thing would exclude them and other queer people who don’t technically live as women but elect to compete in nominally “women’s” leagues.

    • I think that’s interesting. That being said, I am going to proceed to make some comments that you might not like.

      If I were them, I wouldn’t feel comfortable competing on a women’s team, especially if I had issues getting people to accept me as male. In fact, if I were the leaders of the group, I might not even WANT them to play. In my eyes, if they identify as transmen, they are men, and therefore not women.

      Obviously, this applies only if you are thinking about gender as a binary, and that being a “transguy” means that you were once regarded as a woman and are now being regarded as a man. This is DEFINITELY NOT THE CASE if you are anywhere outside of a male/female binary situation– genderqueer, genderfluid, non-gendered, whatever your preferred terminology. I suppose I should not make the assumption, based on your language and use of “transguys,” that these people are not aligning themselves with women in any way. In this way, I recognize that I am absolutely and I am essentializing what it means to be a “guy.” Feel free to trouble my language or assumptions. It just seems to follow for me that you are aligning yourself with men, then you would want to do so completely.

      Obviously, this would be a non-issue if it were not “women’s rugby”–I like that you mention that “we like to think of ourselves as a motley collection of random folks who happen get together to play “’women’s’ rugby.” If that’s the case, have you thought about changing the name to make YOUR organization more queer friendly?

      • Apologies for several grammatical issues– I didn’t reread this closely enough before posting! I think y’all know what I mean, though.

        Also, to clarify, I DO NOT intend to suggest that being a transman means that you SHOULD NOT participate in women’s events. It’s obviously your choice to do so, and I want to apologize for essentializing as much as I did. I am just trying to trouble the potential for that choice to undermine the cause of those who want to see themselves as “men” in as much as “cis-gendered men” can (who would not be allowed to participate in these leagues).

        • Obviously I’m only describing a dynamic on one team that works for one group of people and is constantly being discussed and reaffirmed by our players as new folks drift in.
          I don’t think it’s a contradiction in terms to unify a ragtag team that includes a lot of queer players of many descriptions under the banner of “Women’s Rugby” if all of us on the team feel good about that name. We might be moving in the future towards a more gender neutral label, but women’s rugby has a pretty badass history, and currently we’re proud to pay tribute to that. We reserve the right to feel differently tomorrow.
          Other people trying to come up with a trans policy that suits your sports team: how do you communicate and negotiate with the teams you play against about there being trans people on your team, especially when feelings about this differ greatly? Do you feel a duty to disclose that there are trans players on the team when booking games, or do you wait to be questioned?

          • I was gonna reply but Rugger summed it up perfectly!
            Also a lot of transguys (That I know, I am generalizing) had lesbian friends before and if they wanted to play they sometimes want to play on the same team as their friends. Also they would be able defend their gender/ provide support to people who do not get it.

            Recently there was a transguy that played basketball, and he was out to his whole team. They allowed him to continue to play, with male pronouns etc, and not switch to the mens team.
            For several reasons I am assuming, he likes his team, who knows what guys would do when they find out, and you are not at the same level athletically as guys are when your a transguy.

      • Have you ever played rugby? A girl playing against/with bio-guys is likely to seriously injured- it’s a highly physical sport without protective pads etc. Transguys often are a lot smaller and have less muscle mass than bioguys. Even on t they’d probably end up sporting a lot of injuries and putting themselves and the other players in a difficult situation. Not to mention that fact that a lot of jocky rugby guys probs aren’t going to be too keen to have transguys on their team. For some guys, especailly those who haven’t transitioned or aren’t on t, playing in a “women’s” league might be the only sensible option.

        It’s super hard to be P.C about gender issues (eg transmen should play only on “men’s” teams, because psychologically they are men even if they physically not) when practical things like spinal cord injuries are a real possibility, so I don’t really have any kind of “one size fits all” solution for this scenario. Guess it depends on the person, their team mates attitudes and their sporting abilities.

        • I understand the potential for physical size difference, but if this is really the case, wouldn’t the coach/whoever take that into account? Not all men on a sports team are the same size, which is usually relevant to what position they play on the team, etc. I mean, you won’t necessarily see a quarterback who’s the same size as a linebacker on most football teams, yeah?

          And also, I don’t think it’s fair to assume that “jocky rugby guys” are going to be less supportive that a team of women. It is definitely my experience that not ALL, or even MOST, or even A LARGE PORTION OF women are interested in supporting trans* people. And to suggest that “jocky” people are less likely to support queer people seems to be a self-perpetuating defeatist sort of attitude– if sports players won’t like us, we won’t reach out, people won’t come out in sports, etc.

          • With rugby it’s kind of hard to give smaller guys different positions so they can “avoid” getting tackled etc, I don’t know much about american football so i can’t comment there, but basically the 15 players end up tackling 15 other players, regardless of positioning. Sometimes they have weight grades, so smaller people dont have to play against massive people, but I doubt in the states there’d be enough interest to allow for this really.

            Ummm… I mean I’d love to say that I think jock types are supportive of trans/genderqueerness etc, but in reality (or at least in my experience, not to mention about a million high school TV shows) jock types tend to be pretty narrow minded when it comes to non-hetro cis-genderedness. Of course this doesn’t mean all women are accpeting with open arms or that every single sporty person is biggoted, it’s just a generalisation. The difference is that a biggoted women is less likely to be physically/sexually abusive than a biggoted man. If you’re playing contact sports and sharing changing rooms with cis-men who are uncomfortable with you, you could be putting yourself in a dangerous position. Having said this maybe theres some awesome, open minded rugby teams around who’d have no problem with transpeople on their team. Like I said, a lot is probs up to the individuals. But I dont think you should outright say transguys shouldn’t play on women’s teams, it should be up to them/their team.

        • I have seen a mixed roller derby team which was maybe 40/60% men/women. The latter were not at any visible disadvantage.

          I’m not by any means a derby expert, but the fact that mixed derby teams do exist and to my knowledge haven’t caused any horrible deaths suggests that this may not be as much of an issue as in, for instance, rugby.

        • My brother is about the same height as most of my trans guy friends, and he’s skinny as a rail. He played till he was burger.

          Anyway short dudes have their spot on the pitch. Just play hooker then right?

    • ***I am a skater in a WFTDA league but I am not individually affiliated with WFTDA in any way and my opinions should not be taken as representative of the organization (except when quoting WFTDA’s own language, of course)***

      The language of the policy in fact explicitly prohibits FTM skaters from participating, regardless of hormone levels: “Male athletes may not participate, nor can those born female or Intersex who identify as male.” I completely disagree with this portion of the policy. It is needlessly exclusionary and I hope it will be challenged and amended in the future.

      • Wftda, W-ftda. They can play in the men’s league if they identify as male. Yes, the gender binary is messed up, but sports are divided by age and gender. Challenging this entire institution is a long way off and condemning organizations that are already being progressive is not how you are going to make this change.

        Your argument for the inclusion of FTM is based on their anatomy. If were are judging based on anatomy, then that would excluded the MTF that we are attempting to include with this policy.

        Besides, why would a male-identified person want to play in an explicitly female league?

        • I reread this and I sound a bit obnoxious…I don’t mean to be…

          My final question is where I am stuck. Because there are both male and female leagues…I guess..I just feel that there needs to be lines drawn to protect everyone’s rights and prevent abuses.

          It just makes me REALLY angry when such a progressive policy has been put in place and it is immediately criticized. SO much work and so much fighting happened for this to exist at all.

          This is HUGE, we need to celebrate it!

          • My argument for the inclusion of FTM is based on their anatomy? When did I say that?

            My argument for the inclusion of FTM is that they have experienced life on the F side of the gender binary, they are almost certain to face harsh discrimination and ostracization in the world of traditional/mainstream male sports, and that there are 11 MRDA leagues to WFTDA’s 109. A FTM athlete is already going to face an insane degree of difficulty in being accepted into a sports environment with competitive inter-league play. What do we gain by excluding such a person from WFTDA? I am frustrated by the degree of protectionism around women’s sports. It feels to me like an expression of mistrust because of the disadvantages we experience as women, and our need to have safe spaces specifically for us. I understand that need to protect our space from exploitation. But it’s wildly illogical to act as though trans people experience less discrimination, or could benefit less from a safe space, or make our spaces less safe.

            I guess I just don’t see where inclusiveness of FTM athletes leaves any loopholes open for “abuse” as you mention. Sure, if they’re on hormone supplements, that could open the door for non-trans-identified skaters taking hormones solely for the purpose of gaining a competitive advantage, but the policy excludes all FTM athletes, regardless of their status re: hormone therapy.

            I have great appreciation for the work that went into this policy and I am truly encouraged by its progressiveness in comparison to gender policies in other international sports organizations. I do not think that means it should be above criticism.

  4. I’m going to practise my roller-skating – then, then I’ll get Ellen Page – because I still live in hope that she’s gay. I’m THAT person.

    • You’re not alone. The only reason I clicked on this post was because the pic on the home page was from Whip It! and I was like, “O hai there, Ellen Page!” ;]

    • She has the same OUT publicist as Ellen Degeneres who is very good at keeping gay rumors from defining her client’s careers, meaning she can keep you in the closet if you want to be.

  5. first off, i’m a WFTDA skater. i love derby. i love being a WFTDA derby player, and i happily skate on my leagues charter roster. but i have major beef with this policy. the way you are reporting on this policy is similar to the way WFTDA is trying to spin it: discrimination covered with a thin veil of acceptance.

    i have beef with it for some reasons:
    1. it creates a climate of “outing”. at any time, any team can challenge the “femaleness” of another skater. what does that mean? having to go to the doctor to PROVE that your hormone levels are well within the “acceptable” range for females. considering the number of trans folks that DON’T have access to medical care, and have already had terrible/intrusive experiences with doctors, it is classist. i don’t have health insurance: going to a doctor if i would be challenged would cost me hundreds of dollars. why would someone challenge me? if i don’t “pass” or “read” as female. or if i am a such a badass skater that i must have a penis and high levels of male hormones.

    2. it excludes FTM folks that aren’t using hormones. simply suggesting that your gender identity isn’t “female” is enough to disallow you from playing on a charter WFTDA roster. the NCAA allows female-bodied male identified players, WFTDA (which, by the way, includes “revolutionary” in their mission statement) doesn’t. awesome.

    3. the policy wasn’t written by trans women because they felt excluded, it was written by non-trans women who were worried about trans athletes infiltrating their sport.

    4. ELLEN PAGE DOESN’T REALLY PLAY ROLLER DERBY. please, please. there are lots of hotties (trans and queer and whatnot) that play derby in real life, not just in the movies. so let’s see some pictures of them, eh? just google “vagine regime.”

    bottom line: WFTDA is NOT making it easy for trans skaters. it is perpetuating the transphobia of the wider culture. it is privileging a medical/physically based model of gender, making class-based assumptions about access to medical care, and creating a climate which is (in my opinion) completely opposite of the accepting nature of roller derby.

    • p.s. i’m a proud member of the league which crafted this alternative gender statement, and i’m happy to report that our league rejected the WFTDA proposal when it went to vote. here is our gender policy:

      “I understand that the WFTDA is a women’s sports organization, and that by being a skater/competitor on a WFTDA league I attest to the fact that I am placing myself in the appropriate category according to my sex, gender, or identity.
      If, at some point in the future, I find that I no longer belong in a women’s sports organization due to changes in my sex, gender, or identity, I will remove myself from the position of skater/competitor. If I am found to be willfully disregarding this policy my league has the right to revoke my status as a skater/competitor.”

    • Hey hey.

      A few of these points are a taddd harsh… point 3 –> a trans member of my league was consulted throughout the drafting of this policy.

      I feel like the medical crap is included just to avoid any major abuses. Derby is a dangerous sport and self-categorizing would technically allow a bio man, who personally identifies as male, who “claims” to identify as female to play…which could be dangerous for other players. This would be super unlikely to happen, but an international sports organization needs to have contingencies for shit-disturbers when making legally binding policies.

      • Point taken. I think that there are trans athletes that have been consulted in the process, (there are in my league too) and I’m sorry if I can off as a bit crazy. (Too much caffeine + stress + being somewhat reactionary… sorry!)

        I guess I just feel like this policy doesn’t protect trans athletes, it protects trans athletes that have money/healthcare, have a binary gender identity, and hormone levels that are deemed appropriate. I feel it is very intrusive, and could be self policed. I like empowering people to self-identify, instead of sicking the big-bad gender police on them.
        I feel like lots of the conversation I’ve heard in this regard has been negative towards trans folks. I know this is, in some senses, trans inclusive. But I feel like it shuts out more people than it lets in and that is a problem for me.

        I’m not so sure that having a cisgendered man who identifies as a women playing derby would be so bad. I’ve skated with trans athletes, dudes, and cis ladies. It hasn’t seemed to matter so far. I would rather build policies based on respect than on of encroachment.

        • I totally understand where you are coming from. I guess that this policy can be both trans-protective and trans rights encroaching depending upon the environment in which it is used.

          But, like…step up? a little at least? :)

          • I’ll give you at least a little step up. :) But I just love derby so much that I hate to see people excluded, especially people who are willing, able, and love to skate. I also love WFTDA, and everything we have done with it.

          • Also, I think this is important to state, because WFTDA takes this shit seriously:

            I am not speaking/writing as a representative of WFTDA. I am a WFTDA skater on a WFTDA league. This is my personal opinion, and in no way reflects the opinions of WFTDA, my league (except our policy and our vote), or anyone else.

  6. Ellen Page Ellen Page Ellen Page.
    She sets my tiny teenage heart a’flutter.
    And turns me into melted butter
    When she smiles her adorable smile.
    God I love her.

  7. I had something classy and meaningful to add to this, but then…Ellen Page…

    What was I doing?
    Oh right, breathing. That’s a thing.

  8. I like you a lot and imma let you finish, but … this seems like a *terrible* idea to me. Surely any step to define *what it means to be a woman*, i.e. what you have to have or be or register to play in a women’s sport, is only going to be exclusionary. Even if the definition is a little more progressive than your standard definition, I don’t see this one as being all that, you know, open-minded. What about intersex people? What about people who aren’t on T? What about, what about, what about? There are so many examples of people who would be hurt by this.

    Have an elaborate analogy. In an old West Wing episode Ainsley Hayes, the token Republican, says that she doesn’t support … some amendment. It’s the equal rights for men and women amendment (sorry yo, I’m from New Zealand). Basically, she says, her rights as a women are covered in the right that says *everyone* in the USA has equal rights. Now, I don’t know if I agree with her in that case. But I do kind of feel that if you’re a women’s sport, you’re open to women. Full stop. People who identify as women. No testing, no defining, no qualification, no you’re-enough-of-a-woman-but-you’re-not. Women! Now, you might have to send out some testy memos to remind people that not all women have XX chromosomes, and not all women were raised as women, and what the fuck ever. You could say things like, hey! Trans women are welcome! In the same way a group concerned with their diversity might say, hey! Women of colour are welcome! But calling it a women’s sport already says who it’s for, and qualifying that can only make it less inclusive.

  9. i think that while the word “acceptable” is a little off-putting, “range” implies that it’s flexible. because of the inclusive and bad-ass nature of the women’s roller derby community, it will all be okay. i have conflicted notions about T (not about trans people AT ALL- just the hormone itself!) because i think it doesn’t address the larger issue of that people feel they can only be intelligible when either male or female and that you have to undergo an intense medical procedure just to feel ‘right’. however, it’s awesome that it’s an option at this point in time. i think that in the same vein, this is a great step in opening up ideas of what it means to be a women playing women’s sports. go wftda! i want to play so badly…

  10. I’m a trans skater with a WFTDA league. Here are 4 of my major beefs with this policy:

    1) It doesn’t require genetic females to be within “acceptable” hormone levels. It only says “transgender and intersex skaters”. There are a number of naturally occurring medical conditions that can cause an XX female’s testosterone levels to be WELL above the normal range, and that’s not even counting the possible use of steroids. Yet trans and intersex skaters are being held to this standard while genetic female skaters are exempt.

    This article talks about some of those conditions:

    2) WFTDA doesn’t even have a doping policy! You know, for performance-enhancing drug/steroid use. If we’re so worried about maintaining a level playing field (which it says right in the first paragraph of the policy) then why are we so worried about trans skaters’ T levels but not anyone’s drug use??

    3) It’s hypocritical. The policy states that it’s intent is to be inclusive. The press statement for it talks about how WFTDA is making this change so that we can include trans and intersex people. BUT WE WERE ALREADY INCLUDED! Until this policy came out, trans and intersex skaters were allowed to play, no questions asked! Relative to that, all the gender policy can possibly do is *exclude*.

    4) It’s an invitation to a witch hunt. Whose job will it be to determine whether or not an individual skater is trans or intersex? Because according to the language of the policy, only trans or intersex skaters can be questioned. So what happens if I lie and say I’m a genetic female? What if I don’t want to be outed? Whose job will it be to call me out? What recourse do they have to officially prove I’m trans?

    – JH

    • As a trans freshmeat skater in a Canadian city with two leagues, I’ve been following this topic a lot and waiting with *huge* anticipation. I’m totally thrilled at the announcement and was really distressed to see so many detractors – though I’ll admit they raise some good points.

      I agree with JH on her points #1 and 2 – no one questions the cis-girls hormone levels and that does create a double standard. And no, not everyone can afford hormones in the first place… That said, this policy is far more inclusive and permissive than: getting a drivers license, a passport, the name on your electricity bill updated, or a million other things transfolk have to deal with.

      As for point #3, I can say I was nervous as hell about approaching either league and the responses were: “Sure, come skate” and “We’ll vote on it in 3 months” – so I would not say that we were already universally included. And there was certainly no standard across competing leagues as to whether they’d have to accept trans skaters on the opposing team.

      Point #4 I thought was well addressed by the policy already – it states that the league representative swears that her skaters are female, and that’s it. They are not required to ask for hormone reports, or ‘full-time’ status.

      And they *only* require the league to testify that their skaters are female in WFTDA chartered events, which leaves the leagues TOTALLY OPEN to have anyone they want – male identified FtMs, genderqueers, cis-men, drag queens, whomever – in the intra-league bouts and practice scrimmages.

      In short, I think they managed to be as permissible as they could, given the concerns around contact sports/hormone-induced-dimorphism and the fact that it’s still WFTDA and not just FTDA.

      • On point #3:

        I understand that we weren’t universally included, but that’s a result of individual leagues’ policies, not WFTDA. And this policy doesn’t change that. If individual leagues still want to have restrictions on trans skaters joining, WFTDA’s gender policy has no say over that. It only affects things on the WFTDA chartered level. And on that level, we WERE universally included. When I got into derby, the first thing I did was email WFTDA to ask if trans women can play, and their response was that they had no policy against it; it was up to the individual league, so I should inquire locally.

        How can they claim this policy is inclusive when all it does is add exclusion clauses? If the purpose of this policy is to keep men out of W-FTDA, then it should say that under the section labeled “Purpose”, instead of saying the purpose is to include trans and intersex skaters.

        As for point #4:

        Yes, the basic requirement is that the league rep sign documentation attesting that her skaters are female. And then at the end of the policy is section “V. Appeal”, which reads thusly:

        “Should a league accuse another league of not properly determining eligibility of its athletes for participation pursuant to this policy, WFTDA will review the matter pursuant to its current Grievance Policy.”

        To me, this pretty clearly looks like another league is allowed to say, “We think that skater’s transsexual, and we don’t trust that your league checked up on her properly.”

        This is when a skater would have to provide her paperwork. But only if she really is trans. Because according to the language of the policy, only trans and intersex skaters are subject to this. If she’s XX, she’s exempt, and she doesn’t have to show you any paperwork. So before anyone can request that letter from her doctor, they have to be able to prove she’s trans in the first place.

        So how do we determine whether or not she’s trans? That would have to be covered by the grievance policy, which I can’t seem to find anywhere. But the grievance policy would have to allow WFTDA’s review board to dig into a skater’s state and federal records to find out if the sex had been changed on her license and birth certificate and all that stuff.

        In short, if this policy applied to ALL skaters – not JUST trans and intersex skaters – then there would be no need for discriminatory invasion of privacy in the case of an appeal.

        • I’ll admit I’ve been seeing things through rose coloured glasses in that I assumed part of the intent of the policy was to prevent leagues from discriminating against trans skaters…but you are correct in that it doesn’t really state that League A must accept trans skaters within their own ranks, merely that they have to accept that they may face off against League B which has trans skaters.

          I think I see what you mean in that the language as currently stated is a catch-22, you have to know she’s trans to ask her if she’s trans…

          It seems then, that the clause which states:

          “Transgender or Intersex athletes who meet the definition of Female, as defined herein, are eligible to compete provided that, upon request etc etc…”

          Would be more equitable if changed to just:

          “Athletes who meet the definition of Female, as defined herein, are eligible to compete provided that, upon request etc etc…”

          While I don’t like the idea of exposing butch cis-women to having to prove their hormone levels, it would at least be a policy that’s then applied fairly across all skaters. Since they define female as “Living as a woman and having sex hormones that are within the medically acceptable range for a female.” Technically XX-types would not get an automatic pass if the language were changed as above.

          So I hope they continue to work on details like this to limit the witchhunt potential, but in the meantime the overall message that is sent by having this policy is that derby is a very inclusive sport, and I think that important in the grand scheme of things when it comes to social acceptance of transfolk

          • I agree wholeheartedly that the intended/overall message is a good one. And if the language were changed the way you said, that would fix a lot imo. That’s the part that stings me the most as it is right now.

            There are still financial issues and medical privacy issues that would seem to make the policy unfeasible, even if adjusted to make it more equitable.

            As it is, it already assumes all trans people have a doctor on hand ready to write a note on official office letterhead. In an ideal world, we would, but that’s a lot to assume when legislating official policy.

            This is a non-profit, all-volunteer sport, and I have to question whether it’s even appropriate to be playing with costly medical issues until derby and WFTDA have grown more and have some capital to invest in these kinds of regulatory activities.

            But personally I can’t get quite as fired up about the financial feasibility issue. I wouldn’t mind having an unfeasible/unenforceable policy, as long as it’s non-discriminatory.

  11. When I first read about this policy elsewhere, I was really excited, but now reading all of these comments I feel a little guilty and short-sighted. It seemed to me that hostility was going to happen no matter what, and this was a policy that would protect women who were subject to that kind of “you’re not a /real/ woman” bullshit.
    I don’t think it’s either A. feasible or B. prudent to have /no/ policy on it, because sooner or later it would come up, right? And then that girl would have nothing to fall back on…

    But I definitely see the points about steriods, cisgirl hormone ranges, possible witchhunts etc. etc.
    You guys, I’m so sad. I really wanted to be reallyreally proud of derby. =[
    I still think it was a policy that meant well…

  12. Pingback: Growing Opposition to WFTDA’s Gender Policy

  13. I play derby with the Rockford Rage, and though I am not a transgender woman, I have no reason to believe that trans or intersexed or gender queer persons wouldn’t be allowed on our team. Did the WFTDA really need a policy? There are men’s leagues. There are women’s leagues. Join what you want to join. It’s derby. We’re already an off-kilter group of people.

  14. I’m trans and just about to dip my toes into derby. I suspect there will always be quibbles with wording around this but honestly, I see a ruling that is intended to be inclusive and something to be proud of. Some of the quibbles are a bit of a furphy…if you’re taking oestrogen then you’d better be getting tested for hormones levels occasionally because there are issues related to liver function that your doctor needs to be on top of, at least at first. Besides, once you’ve been taking E for a couple of months your T levels will be through the floor. So maybe just a statement that you’ve been on hormones for a given amount of time would suffice. I’ve been on them for just over a year and My fat and muscle have already redistributed.

    Regardless, big cheer to WFTDA for making a serious effort to be far more inclusive than any other sports body of which I’m aware. The wrinkles can be worked out and with the attitude that’s been shown by the organisation, I’m sure there’s the will in place already to refine this policy where and as needed.

  15. This policy was awful and very anti-trans (it placed requirements on transwomen that it didn’t on ciswomen), to say nothing of completely shutting out the genderqueer from roller-derby at competitive levels.

    So glad it’s gone, and replaced with a much more inclusive policy!

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