THE AFL on Friday released the policy governing the participation of gender diverse people at the elite level of the game.

The principles guiding the AFL’s approach to gender diversity are:

- The AFL recognises that Australian Rules Football is not just a sporting game, but a vehicle for bringing families and communities together. 

- The AFL is committed to the inclusion of gender diverse people in our game and the intention of our policy is that gender diverse players registered to play football in the competition that accords with their identified gender are supported in doing so in a safe and inclusive environment. 

- The AFL is committed to ensuring that gender diverse players can participate in our game free from harassment and discrimination.

The policy has been developed over 12 months following consultation with medical and scientific experts in elite competitive sport, the Australian Human Rights Commission, Australian Sports Commission, AFLPA and representatives from the gender diverse community.

The AFL acknowledges that there are considerations of competition success and inclusion that may be different between community and elite football, noting that the latter has the greatest potential rewards, including remuneration, for participants. 

The policy released today governs the participation of trans and non-binary people in elite Australian rules football competitions, and outlines a procedure that will be followed in assessing an application made by a trans or non-binary person to play in the AFLW. 

The AFL also intends to develop a community wide policy for all levels of the game along with a resource manual to provide information and guidance to support clubs and leagues.

The policy released on Friday governs the process for the application of trans women and non-binary people to nominate for the AFLW draft, and in summary:

- Given the physical nature of Australian Rules Football, it is considered that maintenance of testosterone at or below 5 nmol/Lfor at least 2 years is reasonable to ensure that the competitive advantage of higher levels of testosterone have dissipated to an acceptable degree at the time the trans or non-binary person proposes to play in the AFLW competition. 

- This threshold requirement has been the subject of extensive medical consultation by the AFL.

- If the threshold requirement is met, trans women and non-binary people seeking to nominate for the AFLW draft must produce information including (to the extent available) data regarding their height, weight, bench press, 20m sprint, vertical jump, GPS data and 2km run.

- If an application is approved, an applicant who is then drafted by an AFLW club is required to maintain their total testosterone levels below 5 nmol/L and may be required to undergo periodic testing. 

The Gender Diversity Policy also provides that trans men and non-binary people can nominate for the AFL draft and play in the AFL without the same requirements or assessment as trans women and non-binary people for the AFLW as there is not the same potential for relevant competitive advantage.

AFL General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy Tanya Hosch said today that the policy governing the elite level of the game had been subject to consultation with the sporting and gender diverse communities, and said that the important work to follow was a policy and resource manual for the community level of the game.

It is anticipated that the community policy and associated resource manual will be published prior to the commencement of the 2019 community football season.  

Ms. Hosch said:

"I want to thank the community members who have been engaged with us during this process, in particular the gender diverse community who were extremely generous in sharing with us their experience and views.

"Our game still has a lot to learn about the issues impacting gender diverse people, and I am committed to ensuring that the community’s voice continues to guide us.

"The policy today outlines a process for the elite level, but the much greater piece of work to come will give our community clubs the resources and education required to support gender diverse people in our game. 

"We know that inclusion and belonging delivers real social benefits for individuals and communities, and we do want to send a message that all are welcome in our game."

The policy will be reviewed at least every two years, and the AFL also acknowledges that the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Human Rights Commission continue to develop a sporting industry wide approach. 

The full policy, application form and a “Frequently Asked Questions” document can be found here.

Applications under the policy must be made during the time period for AFLW draft nominations (3-14 September 2018). The AFLW draft will be held on 23 October 2018.