Trans and non-binary footballers can choose men’s or women’s teams, German football bosses say

A person wearing black trainers stands on a football pitch. The trainers have rainbow laces to show support for the LGBT+ community

The German Football Association (DFB) has confirmed it will let transgender footballers choose which gender category they play in.

The DFB said that transgender, non-binary, and gender-diverse footballers can decide for themselves whether to play for a men’s or women’s team, Reuters reported on Thursday (June 23).

The ruling applies to match regulations for amateurs, the junior regulation and the futsal rulebook, the DFB said.

Bosses said that “players who change their gender can take their own decision whether the[y] will be issued an eligibility to play for a men’s or women’s team.”

This has come just after the international swimming body FINA decided to effectively ban all trans women from elite swimming competitions during an extraordinary congress in Budapest.

New rules dictate that trans women who did not begin medical transition before age 12 are not allowed to compete

Since then, many associated sports bodies have introduced or are considering trans-exclusionary policies, including rugby league, which has banned trans women from international competitions pending a review of the rules.

Quinn #5 of the OL Reign passes the ball during a game between Orlando Pride and OL Reign at Cheney Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Tacoma,

Trans competitor Quinn #5 of the OL Reign passes the ball during a game between Orlando Pride and OL Reign at Cheney Stadium (Photo by Jane Gershovich/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

DFB, however, remains clear that transgender athletes should be allowed to participate in the category of their choosing.

It’s part of a move to adhere to 2018 legislation that adds boxes beyond ‘male’ and ‘female’ to personal identification documents in Germany.

“As it is possible since 2018 for people to register in the civil registry as ‘diverse’, there has been a rise in the number of people with that status,” the DFB said. “This also affects people who play football which made the need for clear rules more important.”

Until this policy change, there was no specific ruling in Germany for footballers who identify as ‘diverse’ or ‘no reference’, as indicated on civil documents. This change means that those of the DFBs 7 million members who identify outside of the gender binary have a welcome chance to participate in the body’s 24,000-plus clubs.

Trans participation in elite competitions has become the focus of a long and bitter debate, with opponents claiming that trans women “have an unfair advantage” over cis competitors.

However, several experts, including endocrinologist Dr Ada Cheung, have dismissed those claims, saying that “the science is not clear.”

On FINA’s decision, Cheung tweeted: “Trans women have been hit with a swimming ban. What signal does this send to other sporting bodies?”