Trans woman footballer banned from local team until two years after gender confirmation operation

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A transgender footballer is prohibited by the Football Association from playing competitively for her local team in Leeds until two years after her gender confirmation operation.

The FA told Aeris Houlihan that she could only play competitively with men, in the following months, rather than her local women’s team Middleton Park Ladies FC.

They have upheld the decision despite Ms Houlihan holding a passport and a driving license which both state that she is female.

Ms Houlihan has been on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for eight months.

She will have her gender confirmation operation in March 2014.

In June, she applied to the FA to play for Middlesex Park Ladies FC, following which she provided a doctor’s letter to prove her female hormone levels.

After this evidence was submitted with the support of her hormone doctor, Ms Houlihan claimed that her request was consistently ignored for 5 months.

The FA put this delay down to the sacking of Hope Powell, England’s Women’s National Football Team manager and responded to Ms Houlihan in October.

Powell was sacked in September following bad results at the Euro 2013 competition.

Stating that their rules for transgender applicants is outdated, the FA informed Ms Houlihan that she could not play for her local team and could not appeal the decision.

In response to the decision, she said: “My hormone doctor was disgusted with the decision. I have lost all the testosterone advantage males have and I’m far too weak to play for the men’s team.

“The FA didn’t even bother to look at my hormone levels or my blood test results, which are the same as any other woman’s. They are blind and need to look at the evidence in front of them.

“With the HRT, I need to keep active. Not only that, I love football – playing it and watching it. I never miss an England match, even when it’s just a friendly.”

Middleton Park Ladies FC also voiced their disapproval of the FA’s decision in a statement saying: “We support the fact she would like to play in a Ladies team as she is now legally a women, she has a British passport and she should be allowed to compete as a woman, just as she is allowed to live as a woman in her everyday life.

“So as a club we fully support all our players who play for Middleton Park FC and will stand by them.”

Ms Houlihan, who can only participate in friendlies with Middleton Park Ladies FC, runs a YouTube channel which discusses gender confirmation treatments.

She said: “A lot of transgender girls are quite shy and many of my subscribers have said I’m helping them out by going public with my unfair FA ruling.

“I feel obliged to carry this forward because there will be other people in my situation too. I’m representing something I believe in. ”

Following their decision, a spokesperson for the FA said: “The FA’s policy on trans inclusion in football was set following consultations with experts on the subject, as well as guidance from DCMS and the International Olympic Committee.

“Individuals undergoing gender reassignment after puberty are required to have had the relevant surgical changes completed at least two years previously, as well as hormonal therapy for a sufficient length of time to minimise gender-related advantages in football matches.

“If an individual does not meet the requirements of the policy, they are not able to play football in their legally acquired gender.”