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Transgenderism and Soccer's LGBT Rainbow Problem

Updated: Oct 8, 2019

According to soccer's Laws of the Game, Law 04, Section 5,

“Equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images.”

In the Laws of the Game, Law 04, Section 5, the definition of political includes that “slogans, statements or images related to the following are not permitted...any organisation who aims / actions are likely to offend a notable number of people.”

Responses to use of the LGBT rainbow in soccer, for example by Christians and Muslims, show that this is indeed "likely to offend." Yet religious individuals are not the only ones likely to be offended by use of this political symbol in soccer. Also those who object to the contradiction that transgenderism would bring to soccer for girls and women are likely to take offense at the LGBT rainbow being used in soccer.

The LGBT rainbow symbol serves, among other causes, as a symbol for transgenderism. Transgenderism, however, poses an existential threat to soccer, as well as other sports, for girls and women. Those opposing transgenderism should not be required to wear a political symbol that represents an effort to harm fairness and safety in, or even to obliterate, sports opportunities distinctively for girls and women.

Sarah Ditum explains in The Economist, “In sports, trans inclusion means trans women (natal males, such as Laurel Hubbard, a weightlifter from New Zealand) competing against and beating female athletes, while trans men (natal females) present little threat to male competitors.”

Ditum concluded that “trans rights should not come at the cost of women’s fragile gains.”


The struggle to include girls and women in soccer has been a long, hard fight and this effort still has a long ways to go. Players should not be required to wear or play on a pitch featuring a symbol that stands for eliminating distinctive soccer opportunities for girls and women.

The U.K.-based organization Fair Play for Women explains that the threat posed by transgenderism to sports for girls and women involves both fairness and safety: “Under Self-ID [transgenderism] policies, participation of biological females will inevitably decrease due to unfairness and lack of safety when competing against people with male bodies. We see this happening already around the world in cycling, athletics, MMA [mixed-martial arts], football, etc., with women sometimes sustaining serious injuries. Take this example in the US with adolescent males winning girls’ athletic competitions.[28] The same will happen here unless we use this consultation to say NO. Amateur sports will be ruined for women, and self- ID [of transgenderism] will mean fewer fewer grassroots opportunities – over time this will reduce numbers of biological women reaching national and international levels in sport.”[29]

The Football Association of England previously argued: “The participation of transgender athletes in their acquired gender could threaten the fundamental requirement of a ‘level playing field’ in sport...mixed football is currently prohibited by the FA rules for players over the age of 10 due to the comparatively greater physical strength of male players – disparity in strength levels would in our view lead to increased risk of physical injury.”[30]

Allowing boys who “identify as” girls and men who “identify as” women to play on girls’ and women’s teams, respectively, poses a physical threat to girls and women on the field because these males have

physically stronger bodies. Male muscles and bone structure are different, even if a natal male has had chemical and external physical alterations to look like a “woman.”[31]

The threat transgenderism poses to soccer for girls and women is already a concrete reality. In 2014, a (natal) male who now “identifies as female” played in a World Cup qualifying match for American Samoa’s national team, taking a spot on the women’s team away from a Samoan (natal) woman.[32] In Iran, where the fight to allow soccer for girls and women has been long and difficult, the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran admitted in 2015 that eight players on their national women’s team were actually males who identify as “transgender women.”[33] These eight men took spots on the team away from eight women. In 2018, a male from Spain who now identifies as a “transgender woman” recently switched from men’s soccer to women’s soccer, taking a spot on a professional women’s soccer team away from a woman.[34] Moreover, in all these situations women on the opposing teams had to play against supposedly women’s teams that were actually fielding males.

Allowing boys and men to play in soccer for girls and women would end the distinctive, vitally necessary, and as yet widely under- supported opportunity for girls and women to play soccer as girls and women. Allowing promotion of transgenderism in soccer would allow boys and men by their sheer different physical strength to take over and thus harm or obliterate soccer for girls and women.

Those who care about girls’ and women’s soccer as soccer for girls and women should not be required to wear a symbol on the kit from a political movement trying to eradicate soccer and other sports for girls and women.


This blog post is from pages 7-8 of the 2019 report, "Let All Play: Yes to Soccer, No to Politics." The footnotes in this blog post are on pages 26-27 of the report. CLICK to view the full report.

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