It is a decision that sends a signal: in the future, trans, inter and non-binary people will be able to decide for themselves which football team they want to play on. This was announced by the German Football Association (DFB) on Thursday.
The new regulation, which will come into force in the coming season and applies to the amateur and youth sectors, provides that players with the civil status entry “diverse” or “unspecified” can decide for themselves which eligibility to play they are granted.
It also applies to trans people “who can now change at a self-determined time or initially stay in the team in which they have previously played”.
Until now, marital status has decided on the granting of entitlement to play, meaning that a change for trans people involved major bureaucratic hurdles. There was no regulation for persons with the gender entry “diverse” or “unspecified”. The Berlin Football Association was the first state association to introduce a corresponding regulation in 2019.
According to the DFB, this has been successfully implemented in practice since then, and experience has shown: “The integrity of the competition is not endangered as a result. After all, all people have different physical strengths and abilities that only lead to success together in a team, regardless of gender.”
Christian Rudolph, member of the lesbian and gay association and head of the contact point for gender and sexual diversity at the DFB, welcomes the regulation: “It is so important that the DFB has cleared this hurdle. Amateur football, in particular, must be there for everyone.” It had been a long-term process and now further clarification and support are needed. “But this is an important step towards self-determination.”
Sven Lehmann, the federal government’s queer commissioner, also wrote: “With this, the DFB is underlining its efforts to ensure the acceptance and participation of LGBTIQ people. With the new regulation, he can demonstrate his role model function. Everyone should be able to play football without discrimination.”
Cristin Gießler, who works at the competence group for fan cultures and sports-related social work (KoFaS) and heads the project “Diversity in the stadium – access, protection and participation”, also emphasizes: “Behind this is a longer process in which the DFB also includes trans* players and queer activists. In my view, the fact that the changes were worked out with the people who are ultimately affected is particularly noteworthy.”
The new rule comes at a time when trans, non-binary and inter people are increasingly being excluded from international competitions. Just this week, the International Swimming Federation decided on a new regulation, according to which trans women can only compete with women if they have completed gender reassignment measures by the age of twelve.
In addition to the new regulation, there should be an “open category” in the future, so that trans women will be excluded from many important competitions in the future.
However, scientific studies have long shown that athletes with higher testosterone levels do not have an advantage per se. But although supposed advantages cannot be proven, there have been repeated attempts in the past to exclude trans women from women’s teams, including in cycling.
There, the world association recently tightened the conditions for participation for trans women by lowering the maximum value for the testosterone level from five nanomoles per liter to 2.5 and extending the time limit in which this value may not be exceeded from twelve to 24 months .
The activist Julia Monro, who was involved in the development of the new regulation, believes that the DFB’s initiative is all the more important. “After all the reprisals that trans people experience in sports, such as swimming, it is a milestone that the DFB is making a clear statement.” level of Uefa or Fifa”.