Kevin Roberts opinion piece | 10 August 2019 | Cricket Australia

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Kevin Roberts opinion piece | 10 August 2019


August 10, 2019

Imagine being a young person from a marginalised group of society. A group in which 48 per cent have attempted suicide. A group where almost 80% have self-harmed. A group that experiences depression and anxiety at ten times the national rate.

And now imagine being denied access to sport.

Sadly, for the transgender and gender diverse community, this experience is all too familiar. Already among the most vulnerable and at-risk members of society, trans people have not always been able to connect with the community that could restore a sense of normality, belonging and inclusion to their lives.

I can’t imagine what this would be like, but I do know it’s a terrifying proposition.  

I was proud to announce Cricket Australia’s Elite Cricket Policy and Community Guidelines for the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people this week. 

I truly believe it can have a profound positive impact on people’s lives.

By ensuring an open door to the proven social and health benefits of team sport, we are sending a very clear message that cricket is a sport for all Australians.

Every person in Australia has a fundamental human right to participate in cricket, free from discrimination and harassment. Our announcement this week demonstrates our commitment to include people with an affirmed gender identity in cricket at every level and to ensure all people in our communities experience Australian cricket’s inclusive culture.

At an elite level, I’m pleased to say that transgender and gender diverse players will be supported to participate in accordance with their gender identity. As a starting point, the policy aligns closely with the International Cricket Council and the International Olympic Committee’s policies for eligibility of gender recognition, I believe we’ve struck a fair balance between the opportunity to participate and ensuring fair competition for all cricketers, including those who are transgender or gender diverse.

We were approached by some compassionate volunteers in the community cricket who asked for guidance on how they could make their clubs more inclusive. That’s why we’ve created guidelines in consultation with these very volunteers to support clubs: To help them to provide safe and welcoming environments, if and when they are approached, to include a transgender or gender diverse person at their cricket club.

We anticipated some blowback. And we knew this policy and guidelines would never please everyone. Some of the commentary surrounding women’s cricket in particular, has been overblown and ill-informed. Current and former players, Megan Schutt and Alex Blackwell have actively endorsed the policy which was shaped by consultation with many other elite cricketers along the way.

I take my role at Cricket Australia extremely seriously, but by far, my most important role is to be a husband and a father to five daughters. Our five girls are all actively involved in playing cricket and I would never endorse guidelines or a policy that would put them at risk.

After much consultation, study, discussion and reflection, we remain firm in our belief that this week’s announcement was the right one. Age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, ability or religion should not be barriers to someone who wants to pick up a bat or ball and have a go at playing cricket.

This policy came to life through the initiative and leadership of our people. Our Integrity team along with a host of internal and external experts in the government, medical and LGBTI spheres has brought this world-leading policy and guidelines to life. I would also like to thank the Australian Human Rights Commission, in partnership with Sport Australia, in developing a framework for the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in sport that was released in June this year.

Already, sports from across the country have been approaching cricket for guidance as to how they might navigate this sometimes-complex area of policy. They recognise that we have developed a robust, inclusive and fair policy that will continue to evolve as the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in our community moves forward. I’m proud of that.

I was moved by the story of transgender cricketer, Erica James when she addressed our employees this week and gave us a small insight as to what it is like to walk in her shoes.

She displayed significant courage in telling the story of her own transition, the impact it had on her health and wellbeing and how the Universities Women’s Cricket Club played a role in helping her find her true self. Meeting people like Erica and witnessing the enormous impact this has had on her life, even further confirms we are doing the right thing.

I look forward to hearing many more stories like Erica’s in the near future.

Cricket is not a game for some, cricket is a game for all.

Kevin Roberts is the CEO of Cricket Australia