Football Association condemns transphobic leaflets handed to fans at women’s FA Cup final

Katie Chapman of Chelsea holds off pressure from Dominique Janssen of Arsenal of Arsenal during the SSE Women's FA Cup Final match between Arsenal Women and Chelsea Ladies (Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

The Football Association has condemned anti-transgender leaflets that were distributed at the women’s FA Cup final over the weekend, and the incident has now been reported to the police.

PinkNews previously reported that fans attending the Arsenal v Chelsea game at Wembley Stadium on Saturday (May 5) were handed leaflets by activists from Mayday4Women, a group that campaigns against transgender rights.

The leaflets insist insist that “a man can never be a woman” and that “gender non-conforming kids need feminism not hormones or surgery,” before calling on fans to support calls to ban female transgender athletes – referred to in the leaflets as “male-bodied athletes.”

The incident has now been reported to the police after a number of people reported it using hate crime procedures.

In a statement to PinkNews, the Football Association said: “The FA condemns the messaging within these leaflets as it is at odds with our ethos around trans inclusion.

“We have a policy in place which allows people who self-identify, and who meet our criteria, to play in affiliated football – this was a first for a football governing body and something we are proud of.

“Gender identity should not be a barrier to participation in football and we shall continue to work with the relevant stakeholders around the stadium to ensure similar messaging is reported through the relevant channels if and when it appears.”

Vivianne Miedema of Arsenal scores her team’s first goal of the game during the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final match between Arsenal Women and Chelsea Ladies on May 5, 2018 (Jordan Mansfield/Getty)

Roisin Wood, CEO of Kick It Out, said in a statement to PinkNews: “Kick It Out strongly supports the inclusion of the trans community within football and joins The Football Association in condemning this activity outside of Wembley Stadium, which goes against the organisation’s core messages of equality, inclusion and cohesion in football.

“These leaflets are a clear indication that football can be used a vehicle for hate and a reminder that we must reject discrimination across the entire game.

“The organisation has received a number of reports in response to this isolated incident around Wembley Stadium, which have been reported to the police, and would urge anyone who suffers or witnesses LGBT+ hate at a football match to report this via Kick It Out, The FA or the Police.”

Chelsea celebrate victory following the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final match between Arsenal Women and Chelsea Ladies at Wembley Stadium (Jordan Mansfield/Getty)

Sophie Cook, a transgender AFC Bournemouth photographer who serves as a Transgender Ambassador for Kick It Out, told PinkNews: “I was at the Women’s FA Cup Final this weekend, a match that attracted a record crowd of over 45,000 many of whom were young people and children.

“That a group would decide to target such an occasion to distribute hateful material is abhorrent and could have caused so much fear and pain in any transgender or gender-questioning person attending.

“When I came out as transgender in football it was the fear of potential hatred that made the experience terrifying. That the sport welcomed me so warmly is testament to the power of football as an agent of positive change.

“It’s important that we stand together against hatred in all of its forms and that we send a clear message that bigotry has no place in football or in our society.”

There are zero openly transgender players in the top tiers of football in the UK, either in the men’s or women’s leagues.

Transgender sports stars who have participated in other sports, including Aussie rules footballer Hannah Mouncey and transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, have suffered horrendous abuse for doing so.

Most athletic bodies only allow transgender women to compete in women’s sport if they have a level of testosterone equivalent to that of cisgender women.

Lindsay England of Just A Ball Game? told PinkNews: “[We condemn] the hurtful and disrespectful leaflets handed out at Wembley Stadium during the 2018 SSE Women’s FA Cup Final.

“This is nothing more than a hateful anti-trans agenda by a small minority of uneducated people which puts the safety of many young trans people (and others) trying to find their own identity and belonging at risk.”

“We at (JBG?) know of no men wanting to compete ‘as women’, only women including trans women, who have followed the regulations set out in FA guidance to achieve this.”

A spokesperson for Pride in Football told PinkNews: “We are concerned that transphobic hate literature was distributed at Wembley for the Women’s Cup Final and have asked the FA to let us know a) whether stewards and police were aware and b) if any action was taken.

“We, along with LGBT+ fan groups Gay Gooners and Chelsea Pride, encourage anyone who has any information to contact Kick it Out, who will liaise with the Met Police.

“Football must be a safe and inclusive space for all.”