Trans man who found confidence and community in rugby set to spread joy at major LGBTQ+ tournament
There are many members of the LGBTQ+ community that are passionate about sport, and a trans rugby player is ready to have more conversations about trans inclusion at a massive queer rugby tournament.
Emmett Peacock chose rugby because he liked the sport and always wanted to play. He carefully approached the LGBTQ+-inclusive team Manchester Village Spartans RUFC after a less-than-pleasant experience playing on his university rugby team.
Once he stepped onto the pitch, Peacock found a loving and accepting rugby family with the Spartans.
“The Spartans said, ‘Come along and play’, and I went down and they were so welcoming – and they still are,” he says. “Every time I go out, I’ve got this protective ring of massive rugby players.”
He continues: “I’ve been with them for years now. They’ve been more willing and willing to listen.
“Now, I’m the diversity inclusion officer, and I don’t train currently because I’m finishing uni, writing a dissertation is a nightmare.
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“But I go to conferences and on tour. We’ve got the [IGR] Union Cup coming up next week.
“I just love rugby tours, just the chance to meet another trans player, especially a trans player who didn’t know other trans players.
“Just like, ‘Hello, I’m Emmett. Come be my friend!’ Surprisingly, it happens a lot.”
Peacock doesn’t play as much as he would like because he’s finishing university, but that doesn’t bother him because on the pitch, he feels like just another one of the guys. And soon, he’s going to participate in this year’s IGR Union Cup.
The tournament will see dozens of LGBTQ+ rugby teams and over 1,400 players from more than 18 countries come together in Birmingham, England to compete for the top title over three days of back-to-back rugby starting 27 April.
Peacock is excited for the event because he not only gets to play rugby, but he also gets to see old friends and make new ones.
“I love tournaments,” he says. “I get to meet friends I met in Canada or other rugby tournaments, people who are going to be my friends for a lifetime now.”
He continues: “I look forward to making more friends, more people I can bother on social media. It’s become so much of my own kind of environment. It shocked me.
“A couple of years ago, before COVID, I was an introvert, and now I’m more of an extrovert. I hate silence … I love going out.
“I love either bonding more with the Spartans, my teammates, meeting other trans folks, talking with teams that I’ve never met before, seeing what they do, what we’ve got in common.”
Being part of such a welcoming community has not only helped Emmett come out of his shell, becoming more of an extrovert over time, but it’s also ‘boosted his body confidence’.
He describes a time when his rugby teammates said they would join him in being shirtless when he felt comfortable taking his top off. Emmett’s also trying to lose some weight before top surgery, and he’s found support from some of his Spartan teammates who are also personal trainers.
Peacock co-founded the Transmanian Devils RFC so that “everyone gets the experience” of being welcomed, supported and accepted in rugby just like he has. He says the Spartans have helped the trans team with bootcamps and are the Transmanian Devils’ nominal home base.
They’ve also been supportive of Peacock’s GoFundMe campaign to get top surgery and further feel at home on the pitch as well as in his own body. He says he can’t “cope anymore” without the gender-affirming surgery.
“I want to go back to training,” he explains. “I want to be topless on a beach. I want to go swimming without having to wear a rash vest and being stared at a pool.”
He continues: “At rugby tournaments, there are Speedo competitions. I want to be able to participate.
“You’re going, and everybody will be topless around the pitches. They’ll be sunbathing. I’m just baking in my playing top.”
Peacock is happy to be a dude on a rugby team, but he struggles to play his beloved sport because he hates wearing sports bras and the anxiety they cause him.
It can make him reluctant to participate in rugby despite knowing the boundless love and acceptance he gets from the Spartans.
In the meantime, Peacock is still passionate to talk about trans inclusion in rugby and how ruggers can better support their trans teammates. He looks forward to approaching people at the IGR Union Cup to talk about what their clubs can do to make the future a bit brighter for other trans players.
“They go back and make changes, or a trans player you’ve met will go back and now they know they’re not alone,” Peacock says, mentioning that there is an IGR trans networking group on Facebook.
“It’s just a case of adding more to it and letting people know that’s there, they’ve got resources, they’ve got friends, people who are going through the same experiences and you know dealing with a lot more anxiety than our cis teammates do when it comes down to training, how to bring properly in sport, how to deal with changing rooms or showering or just things like that.”
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