We regret to announce that the English Rugby Football Union's (RFU) position on the participation of trans players in full-contact rugby prevents our club from participating in this year's Union Cup in Birmingham, England.
We are unable to attend for two reasons:
The RFU’s ban on the participation of trans women in full-contact rugby, which is, as we are all aware, a decision made based on an incomplete and biased misreading of the scientific literature.
The RFU’s requirement that trans men effectively out themselves by signing waivers to participate in men’s contact rugby matches.
These are both insurmountable barriers to our participation. We are one club, indivisible. If any of our members are excluded from full participation, then all of our members are excluded from participation.
We do not take this decision lightly. In a collective decision-making process with our cis and trans membership, it became clear that there was no way for us to attend without compromising our fundamental values as a club. Further, the Bruisers are signatories of the Charter for Gender Inclusion in Sport, in which we committed to center the inclusion of trans, inter and non-binary people in our decision-making.
The RFU’s recent change in their Gender Participation Policy put the Union Cup Organizers (International Gay Rugby and the Birmingham Bulls) in a difficult position. This change was made after the tournament had already been awarded. We appreciate the ongoing work by IGR to lobby for the reversal of the ban on trans women playing contact rugby. We appreciate that the organizers made additional efforts to seek an exception from the Gender Participation Policy for the Union Cup, but we are disappointed that these efforts were rejected by the RFU. We understand that there are other actions that the organizers are considering, including an exhibition touch match and fee waivers. Given the RFU’s policies, however, these actions are unfortunately insufficient for our participation as a full club.
The Union Cup has been a joyous celebration of our sport and the gay rugby community. We have relished the competition, camaraderie and chance to be our full selves on the pitch. The opportunity to attend after two years' postponement and bring our FLINTA* team for the first time was exciting. We regret that this ban prevents us from attending. We have sorely missed you, and we look forward to joining you at future events where our entire club can participate and feel welcome.