News: ‘Petty and small-minded’: Sport Minister Grant Robertson responds to critics of Sport NZ transgender guidelines

Sport Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson believes those opposed to Sport New Zealand’s new guidelines concerning transgender athletes are “petty and small-minded”.

It comes after former deputy prime minister Winston Peters deemed the guidelines “woke ideology” that lacked common sense and would create situations when sport was unsafe for those who he described as “biological women”.

The Herald reported yesterday Sport NZ’s new guidelines allowed transgender athletes to compete in the gender to which they identified, part of the overarching principle that “every New Zealander has the right to participate in sport and to be treated with respect, empathy and positive regard”.

The guidelines were developed following engagement with transgender and sporting communities, academics, researchers and other advocacy groups.

The guidelines also include practical suggestions for sports organisations and clubs to develop inclusive facilities, such as bathroom facilities to ensure privacy and gender-neutral uniforms.

Individual sports would be able to form their own transgender participation policy based on the guidelines. It only applied to community sport as elite sports were covered by international bodies.

In yesterday’s article, Sport NZ chief executive Raelene Castle noted the guiding principles were not considered strict rules as it was “not possible to provide a one-size-fits-all approach across every code”.

“Different codes will require or want to take different approaches. Whatever approach is taken, it should reflect the guiding principles, because they are the baseline for supporting inclusion of transgender people in community sport,” she said.

“We do not expect every sports organisation at the community level to produce a specific policy on the inclusion of transgender people.”

Peters, also New Zealand First leader, released a statement on social media earlier today criticising the guidelines.

“The state has no place in people’s bedrooms - and biological males have no place in women’s sports,” he said.

“Biological males have massive advantages and is blatantly unfair and even unsafe for them to compete against biological women.”

Robertson, who said he had not seen Peters’ tweet, believed the guidelines were a “really important piece of work” and challenged critics.

“I think it’s pretty and small-minded when what we’re talking about here is people getting a chance to participate locally,” he said.

“These are guidelines, clubs can use them or not use them but I think it’s a really good piece of work to create a more inclusive environment.”

Speaking to the Herald, Peters said Robertson’s response was “ridiculous” and reiterated his concern the guidelines compromised fair competition.

“If Mr Robertson doesn’t understand that then he shouldn’t be Minister of Sport.”

National leader Christopher Luxon said the matter was a decision for Sport NZ.

While noting he was “very supportive” of people going through gender transitions or identifying with their preferred genders, Luxon wouldn’t give his personal view on whether transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in the gender they identified with.