soccer referee grubb rugby trans ban
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More sportspeople speaking out against rugby trans ban

World Rugby’s proposed blanket ban on trans women would be a “complete disaster” should it come to fruition in November, believes trans woman and soccer referee Jacqueline Harper-Grubb.

“They didn’t have a clear path and they’re using bad data,” said Harper-Grubb.

After watching a local rugby sevens tournament with her family, she said there were so many different body sizes and shapes on display that there was “no way you could justify an outright ban [of trans women playing].”

The Missourian fears wider consequences for World Rugby if the governing body continues down the path of excluding trans women players at the elite level. 

“If World Rugby pushes ahead with this, I can see the IOC kicking [sevens] rugby out of the Olympics,” she said.

She said the proposed ban is in stark contrast with IOC policy in sport, which has included trans women being allowed to compete at the Olympic level since 2003.   

On a personal level, Harper-Grubb has already lost speed and pace on the soccer pitch since she began a feminising transition 18 months ago. 

Her hormone regime includes oestrogen, progesterone, and anti-androgens.

Harper-Grubb with partner Ladonna Grubb. Photo: supplied.

World Rugby’s proposed ban has already been rejected by USA Rugby, Rugby Canada, and Rugby Australia. 

Rugby Australia also unveiled new and inclusive guidelines at the Pride In Sport launch for eight different sports on 1 October in Sydney. 

Harper-Grubb has refereed soccer in southwestern Missouri since 2018 and previously officiated in four other sports over 15 years. 

The proud parent of two children, one of whom is non-binary, is in the good hands of her assignor, a national-level assistant referee who works in the second tier of the USL Championship. 

Harper-Grubb told Pink Advocate that she had been pleasantly surprised when he told her there was no issue with her being trans. 

“He was incredible and he told me he develops referees without regard to who they are,” she said.  

However, she noted that society has far to go to be fully inclusive of trans and non-binary people. 

During early transition, as a futsal referee, she remembers being taunted by a young person calling out, “Sir, sir, ma’am, ma’am, hey tranny.”

Her refereeing partner spoke to the boy, who moved away and was not seen by Harper-Grubb for the rest of the game.

Dozens of experts in health and sports have condemned World Rugby’s proposed ban on trans women players.

In Australia, the movement to include LGBTIQ people in sport continues to gather momentum, with programs including Pride Cup encouraging diversity and inclusion.

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