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Has the FA Also Been a Victim of Transgender Ideology?
Why Has The FA Allowed Blair Hamilton to Play For Women’s Football Teams?
We now have another controversy involving a trans woman being allowed to compete in women’s sport. Blair Hamilton was born male, played football for men’s teams and has now transitioned. The six feet tall goalkeeper plays for Hastings United ladies team and the recent publicity has arisen because of a call up to the English Universities’ women’s team. Cue the vociferous objections from those seeking to defend the integrity of women’s sport followed by the howls of victimhood from the trans activist lobby.
One interesting factor in this story is that Hamilton has received much more support from the players at Hastings and Brighton University (where Hamilton studies and plays) than the likes of Lia Thomas and Emily Bridges have. The obvious difference is that those two trans athletes compete in sports that are, for the most part, focussed on individual competition; the other women around Thomas and Bridges stand to lose out significantly due to their participation. In Hamilton’s situation the other players will gain from having a goalkeeper who is six feet tall with all the other benefits of having been through male puberty. Hamilton’s presence will greatly improve the chances of the team winning. Plus, of course, Hamilton plays for the University of Brighton, not known as a hot bed of gender critical feminism. No wonder the teammates are so supportive.
Perhaps the most informative aspect of the story, however, is Hamilton’s non-football activities. Hamilton is studying for a PhD at Brighton researching the effects on trans athletes of medical transition. Hamilton said this in an interview given to Pride on the Terraces in 2020, “Being male-born the general argument that I am trying to disprove in my research is that trans women have an advantage and that you’re taking a place away from a girl.”
Undoubtedly, this is an area where further research could be beneficial, but not if it is done in such a non-scientific and partisan way. Scientific research, which Hamilton claims to be conducting, should follow the scientific method. One is not supposed to start with the conclusion one wants to reach and then try to find the data and evidence to support that conclusion. That is almost bound to lead to evidence being ignored if it does not support the desired conclusion. It also will cast serious doubt upon the methodology of the research.
This is basic stuff, so how Hamilton received funding and approval for this research, as is necessary for all PhD studies, only the powers that be at Brighton University can say. Perhaps the clue is in the fact that the university is, after all, in Brighton, but it probably helped that Hamilton is also the lead investigator for the Tavistock Transgender Athlete Study. The fact that this “research” is linked directly to the Tavistock would go a long way to explaining why and/or how it has been funded. Of course, the published protocol for the study states that its aim is to be ‘investigative’ in this area, but how the results of this research will have any credibility at all given Hamilton’s stated aims is beyond me. I suspect also that it will not assist in eliminating any suggestion of bias that since the research started the Tavistock has come in for severe criticism in the interim Cass report for the way in which it has promoted the ‘affirmative model’ with respect to children referred to it who have difficulties relating to gender expression. I, therefore, am likely to treat the results of Hamilton’s research with a hefty dose of scepticism.
As a consequence of this story reaching the headlines, I visited the FA website to read its transgender inclusion policy. Inevitably, there were aspects of it that were a cause for concern, not least of which was the FA’s declaration that it had received ‘input and guidance’ from a ‘specialist trans organisation’. The FA clearly did not deem it necessary to seek ‘input’ or ‘guidance’ from any women’s organisations that might have had something to say about safety and fairness in women’s sports. Perhaps that might have been seen as too partisan! In an effort to promote change, I have written the following letter to the FA. I won’t hold my breath but I cannot just do nothing, however futile it might at first seem. The FA has also published a guidance document to accompany its policy which has its own issues. I foresee a second letter and/or article being necessary. Suffice it to say at this stage that it is liberally sprinkled with the term “assigned at birth” in relation to sex and gender. I spy the hand of gender ideologues!
In light of the current controversy surrounding the participation of transgender individuals in competitive sport (especially in women’s competitions) and the recent stories concerning Blair Hamilton and Hastings United’s women’s team, I have today read the FA’s amended 2014 policy on the issue. Please can you confirm whether there has been any update to this policy document and, if not, whether it is your intention to reconsider your policy.
On the assumption that there has been no update, there are a number of issues that arise from your current policy that I would be grateful if you would address.
In the introduction to the policy, you refer to your desire to ensure the inclusion and safety of participants. Whilst I recognise that the concept of ‘fairness’ is referred to elsewhere in the policy, its omission from the introduction does give the impression that you give it a reduced emphasis compared to those you have mentioned. Was this omission an oversight or the result of a deliberate decision to downplay the importance of fairness in this policy area? Will any revised policy be likely to remedy this omission?
When dealing with the background to the policy you state that you are happy to have followed the then guidance from the Sports Council on the participation of transgender individuals. Given that new guidance was issued in September 2021 will you be reviewing your policy in light of this and adopting in full its new recommendations?
You also state that you sought the input and guidance of a ‘specialist trans organisation’. Can you confirm whether this was Stonewall? If not, which ‘specialist’ organisation gave you guidance? Is there any reason why your policy does not identify this organisation? In the interests of transparency, can you publish the input and guidance received, or at least a detailed précis of it? Can you also confirm why you did not consider any input from specialist organisations in the area of women’s rights, particularly as the issues of safety and fairness are as crucial to natal women as they are to trans individuals, probably much more so? Will you undertake to correct this further omission upon reviewing your policy?
In the section relating to what gender reassignment means you are at pains to explain that it is one of the nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. However, this section fails to mention that sex is also a protected characteristic or, indeed, that any policy that favours inclusion over fairness or safety (for example by giving undue weight to the first of these) could also be considered as discriminatory against natal women. The FA seems not to recognise that natal women are, in effect, a protected group too and should not be discriminated against. Will this be corrected in any policy review?
Turning to the policy itself, the general rule is stated as being that ‘any players playing in an age range above the under 18 age range must be of the same gender’. This terminology is wrong and, in a document specifically relating to gender issues, has the potential to be confusing and misinterpreted. Many trans activists argue that trans women and trans men ARE the same gender as women and men respectively. Instead of ‘gender’ you should be using the term ‘biological sex\ or ‘natal sex’, with the emphasis being on the word sex. Gender is a social construct and not a biological term.
Furthermore, this is a change from the original 2014 policy in that the age for mixed children’s football has been increased to 19. This appears to run counter to the FA’s own statement about the impact of male puberty on strength and muscle mass etc. Can you please advise as to why this amendment was made and upon what scientific basis it was considered safe and fair to do so?
The policy then says that applications to depart from the general rule will be considered on a case by case basis. The current Sports Council guidance, referred to above, states that a case by case approach is no longer appropriate. Please confirm that the FA will take this on board when revising its policy.
The Sports Council guidance also makes it clear that upon the evidence currently available, testosterone suppression is unlikely in itself to counteract the effects of male puberty so as to make it either fair or safe for trans women to compete in the female category. In light of this, even if no other amendments are made, will you now remove from your policy the automatic assumption that complying with hormone treatment will lead to an application to participate being successful?
As far as the stated ‘hormone-based’ requirements are concerned, these refer to testosterone levels being reduced to ‘within the natal female range’. Can you please clarify what those levels are and from where you have obtained the relevant scientific data? It seems to me that a transparent policy should make these details absolutely clear.
The FA maintains a confidential register of trans players who have been allowed to participate in their ‘affirmed gender’. Please confirm how many such approvals have been granted. Football is a sport that belongs to everyone and this is information which should be on the public record.
Having considered your policy document in some detail it is clear that there is an urgent need for your policy to be fully revised and updated. Please confirm that you will do so.“