Transgender Football Player Exits Team, Mulls Discrimination Suit Amid Strength Concerns From Opponents

A transgender football player has quit playing and threatened to sue the opposition for discrimination after some teams have refused to play against her due to differences in physical strength.

Impending Discrimination Case?

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UK football player Francesca Needham has chosen to “step down from playing football for the foreseeable future” and is considering pursuing a discrimination case after several opposing teams have refused to play against her. 

Blocked Shot Causes Broken Knee

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The boycott against the transgender player began when an opposing player reportedly suffered a broken knee because of Needham, after “blocking a shot” of hers. 

Players Don’t Feel Safe

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Since then, other teams have refused to participate in matches against her team, Rossington Main Ladies Football Club, while Needham is playing.

Players have cited safety concerns, and some are reportedly “terrified” of playing against her due to the differences in physical strength between Needham and other players. 

A Challenge to Play

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The athlete has claimed via the club’s official page that she has ‘faced challenges from teams unwilling to play against us while I am on the field.’

Claims of Discrimination

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The boycott qualifies as discrimination, according to Needham, as she worked to meet every requirement set out by the Football Association in order to fairly compete as a transgender player.

This situation may lead to a possible court case, Needham continued in the statement. 

Breaching the Code of Conduct?

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“This unfortunate circumstance has prompted me to investigate pursuing a case of discrimination, as I believe it represents a breach of a code of conduct regarding diversity and inclusion,” Needham’s statement reads.

“As well as safeguarding of adults in football established by both the Football Association and the Sheffield and Hallamshire Women and Girls League.”

Disheartening Situation

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“It’s disheartening to acknowledge that this situation contradicts everything in the diversity and inclusion policies,” the statement continued.

“I sincerely hope that this issue of perceived discrimination against me can be resolved peacefully and promptly.”

FA Transgender Policy

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The FA policy for transgender players applies to players over 16 and is approved on a “case by case basis.”

Players must satisfy “hormone-based requirements,” and the association must take the “safety of the applicant and fellow players and the need to ensure fair play and fair competition,” into account before the player can be approved.

Her Team Supports Her

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Rossington Ladies FC has stood behind its players at every step.

The team secretary posted: “In unity we defeat discrimination,” following Needham’s announcement. 

Only 2 Matches This Season

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Since passing the Football Association’s requirements, she has only played two matches for the 2024 season.

During the first match, the opposing team’s manager realized that Needham was transgender, which later drove them to the media to share their concerns. 

Other Teams Weren’t Notified

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“Unfortunately, the FA allowed it to happen but didn’t let anyone know. She’s quite a big strong player,” the manager, who asked not to be named, said.

“People have refused to play because they are worried about the safety of the players.”

Psychologically Challenging

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The manager then shared that several players did not want to play the team again due to Needham’s biological sex.

“My players were backing out of challenges as psychologically it’s quite a big thing,” they said. “When you are playing against a biological man it’s quite scary. They were terrified.”

Welfare Issue Only

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Another manager of one of the teams who are refusing to play Rossington has commented on the boycott, claiming it is a “welfare” issue, not a “transgender issue.”

“I have 16 and 17-year-old players playing for me and their parents weren’t too keen to put their welfare at risk,” they said.

No Intent to Injure

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When the aforementioned opponent who blocked Needham’s shot suffered a serious injury, more teams and individual players began to raise concerns, though there was no ‘intent to injure,’ or foul play involved, according to the opposing team’s manager.

Serious Consequences for One Player

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However, the unnamed player has had to launch a fundraiser to help deal with the medical consequences of her injury.

She claimed she is facing “serious consequences of an unfortunate grey area in women’s football which is going to be extremely detrimental to her work and personal life.”

The post Transgender Football Player Exits Team, Mulls Discrimination Suit Amid Strength Concerns From Opponents first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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