subhead: awesomeness ensues.
I love my local roller derby team.
Below is the official response from the Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls in response to my call for the league to stand up in opposition to the gender policy passed by women’s roller derby’s governing body, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.
I admire BHRG’s members and leaders for taking this stand on an issue of deep importance to so many of the league’s skaters and fans.
The Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls would like to thank you, Jenna, for highlighting our league’s opposition to WFTDA’s current Gender Policy and the work we have done to try and change this policy. As was mentioned on the WFIU interview and in the update to your blog post, BHRG has been incredibly vocal within the WFTDA organization against this policy. We were one of the first member leagues to oppose the policy when it was proposed, and, when asked what an alternative policy might look like, we carefully and thoughtfully drafted a policy that was termed by the WFTDA the “Bleeding Heartland Proposal”, and which became the competing policy to the one that was eventually adopted. Our proposed policy is below, in case you are interested.
Bleeding Heartland Policy
Skaters will be asked to confirm their gender, but there are no medical or legal requirements. The affirmation document would be similar to the following:
“I understand that the WFTDA is a women’s sports organization and I hereby confirm on good faith that I am eligible to compete in a women’s sport. If, at some point in the future, I find that I am no longer eligible to participate in a women’s sport, I will stop being a competitor. If I am found to be willfully disregarding this policy my league has the right to revoke my status as a skater/competitor.”
This is more or less the policy that BHRG has operated under from our league’s founding, even before joining the WFTDA. It is also the policy we currently operate under for all of our non-charter teams, and we welcome transgender and gender variant skaters to skate with our league. We are proud of this policy and have since shared it with other WFTDA and non-WFTDA leagues, as well as other women’s sports teams who were seeking suggestions of how to draft their own policies.
Unfortunately, the majority of WFTDA member leagues voted for the current WFTDA Gender Policy over our proposal, though we were heartened by a substantial minority vote for our policy.
In regards to the article about the Philly Rollergirls that you posted, we were very glad to see the Philly Rollergirls, a very well-established and well-respected team within WFTDA, become vocal publicly in their opposition to the policy after the policy was enacted. We have been aware of their statement since it came out and have sported the gender-neutral temporary tattoos that they created in opposition to the policy at several of our bouts. The league members who responded to your question on the radio were confused by the use of the word “protest” in the question, as they believed you were referring to Philly withdrawing or refusing to play within the WFTDA, which is not the case to our knowledge. We apologize for misunderstanding your question, but as it was submitted via online chat and then read by the interviewers, it was hard to get any clarification. We would welcome an actual face-to-face chat with you if you have any further questions or suggestions, as it would allow us more time to discuss the history, motivations, and process of the current WFTDA policy and our alternative policy, and share ideas about how to continue to fight for a change to the policy.
Since you chose to post on your blog instead, however, we feel it’s appropriate to respond in kind and allow your readers a chance to see our response. Your blog post initially seemed to suggest that you didn’t feel we were doing enough to oppose this policy. As one of the most vocal leagues against the policy since the beginning, we were initially surprised by this characterization. Upon reflection, we realized this misunderstanding may stem from the fact that most of the discussions we have had in regards to the policy have been within the WFTDA organization, which is a closed organization with a confidentiality policy. We have been operating under the belief that it is more effective and more powerful to continue the discussion within the WFTDA and to be a significant voice within the organization rather than leaving the organization and/or protesting outside of it. By being an active member and continuing the discussion, we’re able to address this diplomatically and strive to change the minds of the other member leagues as a dedicated member of the association.
That said, we do have some ideas for continuing our opposition movement that could involve participation and help from our fans and the public. If anyone is interested in helping or continuing this discussion, we urge them to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will continue to work for change on this issue, and, since we are a sports league that strongly values our fans and our interaction with community members, we welcome everyone to join us in being a part of that change. Thank you for your support and for the opportunity to share our thoughts, and we look forward to continuing our discussion in person.
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