Colorado Springs, Colo. (Dec. 19, 2019) – On Saturday, December 7, Community Liaison Volunteers Ashleigh Buch and Kelsey Gibboney, along with ultimate community members Jack Verzuh and Mags Colvett, met with USA Ultimate staff members Julia Lee and Larry Melton to discuss relevant topics impacting transgender and non-binary members of the ultimate community.
After introductions and some background information on the equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work that USA Ultimate has been doing this year at the staff level, the group looked at the new optional process for collecting pronouns via member accounts, distributing them for media and event guide purposes and having pronouns appear on their team pages. Overall, the process received positive feedback with a few additional modifications suggested in order to provide more support to USA Ultimate members
The group explored how to further the conversation on pronouns, including training for coaches, observers and announcers. The members of the group also emphasized that USA Ultimate should set the tone for the entire ultimate community and should encourage and emphasize responsible behavior.
One member of the group asked to have a way for teams to let other teams know how they prefer to be identified, including creating space for teams to advocate for themselves / their teammates or to advocate for how they would like to be treated. This change lines up with work that USA Ultimate staff are currently doing to create a Team Culture Self-Assessment. This document will be used as a tool to assist spirit captains — and ultimately teams — in communicating with each other before the game, and it is slated to be ready for use by summer of 2020 after a brief round of testing and feedback in the months prior.
Transgender Inclusion Policy:
Next, the group reviewed the current USA Ultimate Transgender Inclusion Policy, passed in the fall of 2018. Similar to with the use of pronouns, the group encouraged that coaches, event organizers and observers be required to read the policy as part of their training and certification process in order to spread awareness about the policy throughout the community. Members of the group also advocated for a detailed reexamining of the current policy and started work to create draft language and research to back up their position. The purpose for reevaluating the current policy stems from the group’s discussion about misconceptions around hormones and Gender Affirmation Treatment and how they impact competition. Additionally, the group felt strongly that inclusion for transgender and non-binay players should not be limited by requirements for competition. Julia and Larry will craft the proposal and have members of this group review it before sending it to the appropriate board committee/working group.
After that, the group tackled a discussion around anti-doping ahead of USA Ultimate’s efforts to create a formal policy in 2020. The members of the group were in favor of exploring ways to reduce the burden on transgender and non-binary members of the community — especially with youth players — in relation to anti-doping policies. Given that anti-doping policies and Gender Affirmation Treatment can in some cases overlap, the group saw it necessary to proactively suggest policy that would mitigate exclusionary implications of the Anti-Doping Policy. Julia and Larry will craft the proposal and have members of this group review it before sending it to the appropriate board committee/working group.
At the end of the day-long meeting, the group discussed topics brought up by the members in attendance, including Spirit of the Game, matchup categories in the mixed division and ways to engage more members of the ultimate community in helping to lead conversations around gender issues. Some items have recommendations that will appear in the recommendations document that Larry and Julia will put together and circulate to the group for review, while other items were tabled for further discussion by the Club Working Group.
Additionally, the group also addressed the importance of finding ways to increase representation of different demographics on committees and review boards. For example, this meeting brought together a small sample of the overall LGBTQ+ community to review topics impacting their community, but there is more work that can be done to ensure underrepresented groups play a role in reviewing policies and procedures directly impacting them.
Overall, it was an amazing experience to build connections and work together with the members of the group. After the meeting, Julia and Larry created this summary and circulated to the group for review and approval. It will be passed on to the EDI consultant and staff EDI Team, along with the recommendations document once it’s complete, and together we will discuss how to integrate the knowledge gained from the meeting into the 2020 EDI Development plan that the staff has already started creating and which guides the work that the staff will do on EDI topics throughout the year.