Ringette Canada Updates its Transgender Inclusion Policy

Based on the unanimous recommendation of an expert panel, Ringette Canada’s Board of Directors has updated the Transgender Inclusion Policy to address gaps that excluded players who identify as transgender male or non-binary.  

In some provinces there are no existing programs for participants who identify as male or as non-binary (i.e., someone who does not identify as exclusively male or female). Under the previous policy, players were required to participate in the gender category in which they identified (i.e., a transgender male had to play in a male only or mixed division). This situation forced some participants to leave ringette before they wanted to (see Robin’s Story below). 

Robin is a transgender male athlete. Before he fully came to terms with his gender identity, he started playing ringette at age 6 on a girls’ team. He immediately fell in love with the sport. At 13, he came to a full understanding of his gender identity as a boy and started to share this with others in his life, which was both exciting and scary. What he didn’t anticipate was the impact it would have on his ability to continue playing ringette with teammates who had become close friends. Under the previous policy, Robin was required to play on a boys’ team to align with his gender identity. Unfortunately, there were no male ringette programs available in his part of the country and, much to his disappointment, he had to leave the sport. 

Ringette Canada is working with provincial associations to address this gap in programming. Recognizing that a sustainable solution is going to take time to design and implement, Ringette Canada is moving now to amend the Policy to allow transathletes to play on a team that corresponds with either their gender identity or their sex assigned at birth.

An athlete assigned female at birth, who now identifies as a boy or man, can choose between two options: 1) staying on his current team in a female league, or 2) choosing to play in a male or mixed gender league, if that option is available in his community. The renewed policy also makes options more explicit for non-binary players who can participate on a team of their choice (male, female or mixed). 

We further recognize the importance of education for everyone involved in our sport so that, together, we can create a truly safe, welcoming and inclusive place for everyone to enjoy ringette. This approach is fully consistent with our core values that emphasize equity, diversity and inclusion. 

In collaboration with Provincial Ringette Organizations, we are committed to developing education materials on transgender-inclusion along with a suite of practical guides and tools 

(e.g., guidance document on the collection and use of gender data, change room guidelines) to encourage a consistent approach across the country. 

Our Policy is fully consistent with Creating Inclusive Environments for Trans Participants in Canadian Sport, a ground-breaking document developed by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport in consultation with an expert working group. Ringette Canada continues to monitor ongoing developments in Canada and abroad and will review and/or revise the Policy as warranted. 

Members of the Expert Panel included:

  • David Master (he/his), JD and Ringette Canada Board of Directors (Chair)
  • Steven Indig (he/his), LL.B. and Partner at Sport Law 
  • Natasha Johnston (she/hers), Ringette Canada Executive Director
  • Mike Taylor (he/his), Ringette Canada Board of Directors
  • Darrell Liebrecht (he/his), Ringette Canada Board of Directors
  • Pamela Julian (she/hers), Ringette Ontario Executive Director
  • Nicole Robb (she/hers), Ringette BC Executive Director
  • Kai Scott (he/his), President and Gender Strategist with TransFocus Inc.
  • Jillian Black (she/hers), Canada Centre for Ethics in Sport

You can find more information here. Additional resources will be posted on the Ringette Canada website as they become available.

Territory acknowledgement

While we are a proud Canadian organization, we acknowledge that our head office is located on traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg People, and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Ringette Canada extends our respect to all First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples for their valuable contributions to this land. We are committed to moving forward in the spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.

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