Football v Transphobia Week of Action to highlight trans-inclusive clubs amid rise in reports of anti-trans discrimination

Published by Jon Holmes on

Sixth annual activation of the FvT campaign being held from Sunday, March 24, through to Trans Day of Visibility at end of month; clubs and leagues encouraged to promote their trans and non-binary inclusive values and the welcoming environments they create for everyone, using hashtag #FvT2024; sharp rise in reports of anti-trans discrimination in grassroots game and on social media, says Kick It Out

By Jon Holmes

Clubs and leagues across football that are proud to be inclusive of trans and non-binary people will be celebrated in the annual Football v Transphobia Week of Action.

The dedicated campaign, which is a strand of the wider Football v Homophobia initiative, has been running since 2019.

For the 2024 activation, being held from 24 to 31 March, a renewed call is being made across the game to take a stand against transphobia, which is a form of discrimination that – like racism, sexism, homophobia and biphobia – has a significantly negative impact on participation and enjoyment.

“Players, coaches, match officials, fans, administrators and the media all have important roles to play in ensuring football truly is for everyone, including gender-diverse people,” says FvT campaign lead Natalie Washington.

“For many years and in many places, trans and non-binary people have found welcoming communities connected to football.

“Representation is still very small but acknowledgement of the contributions we make is growing, particularly with the increase in the number of clubs stipulating that they are trans-inclusive.”

The encouraging growth of clubs and leagues that publicly state they are for women and non-binary people – with many newly founded – continues across the UK, alongside the rise in popularity of women’s football at all levels.

In contrast, there has also been an increase in reports of anti-trans discrimination in recent times – an effect of declining moderation standards on social media platforms and an upsurge in incidents of abuse in football more widely.

Kick It Out, football’s foremost anti-discrimination organisation, has confirmed that it has received more reports this season relating to transphobia than ever before in its history.

The majority of the reports stem from posts and comments made online, but around a quarter relate to grassroots football. 

The Football Association’s disciplinary processes continue to recognise gender reassignment as a protected characteristic, in line with the UK’s Equality Act.

There are relevant examples in the public domain of outcomes such as suspensions and penalty fines, where transphobia has been identified and proven by independent panels as an “aggravated breach” of improper conduct.

“More awareness and visibility helps with learning, but we’re also seeing heightened abuse linked to football too, particularly on social media,” says Lou Englefield, director of Pride Sports which runs FvT as part of the wider Football v Homophobia campaign.

“Sadly, an effect of the ‘culture wars’ seems to be that some people now think they can say whatever they like, even if it’s hateful towards a protected minority group.

“We focus our efforts on education – we have infographics and other available resources to assist with that – but we also urge people to report anti-trans discrimination to Kick It Out so that it can be fully investigated and the appropriate action taken.”

The FvT Week of Action provides increased opportunities to amplify the voices of trans and non-binary people in football; to visibly activate the campaign on matchdays, at training sessions, through media and comms, and online; and to signpost steps we can all take to reduce transphobia.

The FvT factsheets series, available here, provides examples.

“There are lots of ways to get involved in the Week of Action,” adds Englefield. “We encourage individuals to highlight their allyship throughout the week, both in person and online using the hashtags #FvT2024 and #NoFootballWithoutTheT.”

The dedicated focus on the FvT campaign will conclude on Trans Day of Visibility, while Football v Homophobia’s work continues year round to tackle anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in all its forms and to help build communities across the game for LGBTQ+ people and allies.

Visit the FvT page for more information on how you can get involved in the Week of Action, running from Sunday, March 24, to Trans Day of Visibility on March 31.

Check out our archive of related content, including episodes of the FvH Podcast.

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