Sports beyond sex : a study on trans and intersex people in sex-segregated Swedish amateur sport

Thumbnail Image
Carlson, Fredrik
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Anno 2020 many human rights bodies have pointed out that trans and intersex individuals are entitled to the equal enjoyment of human rights just like everyone else, that includes to participate and enjoy sport. Amateur sport is the foundation of all sports. Trans and intersex people in Swedish amateur sport face structural discrimination and one main reason is the rigid sex-segregated structure and the underlying masculine sports culture, which can be found on all levels in a lot of sports. The purpose of the study is to investigate how the traditional structure of sex segregation, and the underlying masculine sports culture, affect trans and intersex persons’ right to participate and enjoy sport, and to elaborate on ways to include, and strengthen the rights for the group, without jeopardising the same rights of others, especially women. The study has conducted 10 semi-structured interviews, with trans and intersex people, sport coaches, the Swedish Sport Confederation and politicians. From a queer-feminist approach it analyses the results based on the structural framework (1) the right to participate, (2) the right to equal enjoyment, (3) fair play and (4) sports beyond sex. These categories derive from the Swedish sports movement’s fundamental values and its ambition to create “inclusive sports for all”. The study distinguished five distinctions of sex-segregated sports, (1) elite and amateur sports, (2) competition and practice (3) adult and youth sports (4) team and individual sports and (5) traditional and new sports. Based on these distinctions the study found that Swedish amateur sport can be hostile areas due to, inter alia, sex-segregated teams, divided locker rooms, stereotypes and social norms and competition rules. In order to strengthen the human rights for, and include, trans and intersex the state and the Swedish Sport Confederation are the main duty bearers. From a long-term perspective the sports movement needs a profound change and a structure and a culture that identify them, instead of dividing them. That is the essence of “sports beyond sex”.
Second semester University: Utrecht University
sport, human rights, transgender, intersexuality, Sweden