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Cricket Australia announces first transgender policy

Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts, transgender cricketer Erica James and Dr David Hughes Getty Images

Cricket Australia has announced its first transgender policy for top-level cricket and guidelines for the community game to support players choosing to participate in line with their gender identity, whether or not this aligns with the sex they were born with.

CA's elite cricket policy, which was launched at the MCG on Thursday, aligns closely with the ICC guidelines, and provides transgender and gender-diverse cricketers guidance on how they can compete at the top level.

The policy states that "to consider the relevant aspects of strength, stamina or physique" any player under the policy who is participating in elite female cricket must be able to establish that their concentration of testosterone in serum has been less than 10 nanomoles per litre continuously for at least 12 months. This is in line with the ICC's gender recognition policy.

"It doesn't make any sense that today, people are discriminated against, harassed or excluded, because of who they are. And that's not right," Cricket Australia CEO, Kevin Roberts, said. "Today we demonstrate our commitment to include people with an affirmed gender identity in the game at every level and ensure all people in our communities experience Australian cricket's inclusive culture.

"As strength, stamina and physique are all relevant factors when competing in competitive sport, transgender and gender-diverse players will be supported to participate in elite cricket, subject to certain criteria through the implementation of this policy."

However, on Friday Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was heavily critical of the new policies, particularly the community cricket part. "I think it's pretty heavy-handed - to put it pretty mildly," he told 2GB Radio. "There are far more practical ways to handle these issues than these heavy mandatory ways of doing it, and I'm sure these issues have [been] quite carefully and practically managed at a club level already.

"So why there's a necessity to get the sledgehammer out on this is mystifying me, but I think we need to get the issue in perspective and ensure we manage it calmly."

Roberts said: "From a community cricket level, the guidelines provide robust guidance for clubs and associations to encourage the participation of transgender and gender-diverse players and support frameworks for people who are subject to any form of harassment or discrimination on the basis of their sex or gender identity.

"Discrimination of any sort has no place in the game and all of Australian cricket is driven to ensure all cricketers can participate in a harassment-free environment."

Former Australia player Alex Blackwell has been a key figure in bringing the policy together. Blackwell plays alongside Erica James, a transgender cricketer who returned to the sport after not playing since childhood, at the Universities' Women's Cricket Club.

"I finally made the decision that I should transition, and one of the first things I did was Google 'trans-friendly cricket club'," James said. "Two days later I was meeting Alex Blackwell and the committee for the Universities' Women's Cricket Club.

"The moment that I realised that I could play in a team of women like me I was so surprised and so happy. I'm getting exercise now, I'm getting out there and meeting people - I'm making amazing friends."

Blackwell said: "Australian cricket has a really wonderful purpose, and that's to be Australia's favourite sport, and a sport for all Australians, and it's really important that we live by that, and we walk the talk. These guidelines are very clearly about inclusivity, and that all people feel like cricket is a sport for them - that they would be safe and welcome to participate in the game, or to consume the game as a fan."