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Breaking barriers with the inclusive force of the Transmanian Devils RFC

The Transmanian Devils Rugby team are a super inclusive rugby team like no other
Transmanian Devils

The Transmanian Devils RFC, are a shining light of inclusivity and proudly represents the transgender and gender non-conforming (GNC) community on the rugby field.

With members hailing from diverse corners of the UK including Glasgow, Brighton, London, Reading, Manchester, and beyond, the club welcomes all backgrounds and abilities.

The Transmanian Devils RFC

Dedicated to breaking down barriers in rugby, particularly concerning the exclusion of trans women, the Transmanian Devils are trailblazers in the fight for inclusion.

Their ethos revolves around creating a sanctuary where players can authentically express themselves, find solidarity in shared experiences, and forge lifelong friendships.

Emmett who is one of the chairpersons at the club said “We accept players with any ability level and we recently fielded a tens rugby union team and a touch rugby team at a tournament in Newcastle.

“As a club we are dedicated to improving Trans inclusion in sport, especially in rugby union where Trans women have been banned from playing women’s rugby.

“We create a safe space for Trans athletes by providing them a space to freely be themselves and be around others going through similar journeys.

“We pride ourselves on the friendships our players build and the confidence they gain over time with our favourite hashtag #transrugbyfamily because that’s what we are.”

The club has a range of players of all abilities and ages.

They currently have over 60 members aged beteeen 18-40+ and they were recently given International Gay Rugby (IGR) affiliation.

IGR is an LGBT+ inclusive rugby league with over 30 clubs based in the UK alone and many more abroad.

You can find out more about IGR by clicking here

Charlie, another chairperson, said: “We are its first transgender-specific team and most of our members play regularly for their local inclusive rugby team.

“Over the past 11 months, we have hosted our own boot camp, taster days (area-based) and attended multiple tournaments with more in the calendar for 2024.

“Later this month our club celebrates its first birthday so it was a surprise to be shortlisted for the Gaydio LGBT+ Sports Club of the Year and a bigger surprise that we won it.”

Why did they set up the team?

Matt, from the Transmanian Devils, explains why they wanted to set up a team that was inclusive.

They said: “The Devils were created based on our individual experiences within the realm of rugby and the sense of isolation often encountered by transgender and gender non-conforming (trans/GNC) players amidst predominantly cisgender counterparts.

“As a trans barbarian rugby team, our ethos and values of inclusion, safety, well-being, community, and social responsibility are central to our mission of empowerment.”

The Transmanian Devils break down what they are all about into the following:

Inclusion – inclusion means creating a space where trans and gender non-conforming individuals feel welcome and valued. By embracing diversity and creating a team environment that celebrates differences, you ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate in rugby without fear of discrimination or exclusion.

Safety – Safety is paramount, both on and off the field. The team prioritises creating an environment where members feel emotionally safe, supported, and respected, free from harassment or prejudice.

Well-being -The well-being of members is a top priority. Beyond physical health, the Transmanian Devil’s recognise the importance of mental and emotional well-being and prioritise creating a space where the devils feel comfortable being themselves. 

Community – The club serves as more than just a sports team; it’s a community where members come together to form bonds, share experiences, and support one another. .

Social Responsibility – As advocates for transgender rights and equality, the club recognises its role in promoting social change and challenging systemic barriers. Through activism, education, and engagement with the broader community, they strive to raise awareness about transgender issues, combat discrimination, and advocate for greater inclusivity and acceptance in sports and society as a whole. 

The club hosted its first-ever boot camp in Sale in July 2023, which attracted about 20 participants over the weekend.

Following that, they have taken rugby teams to Edinburgh and Newcastle for rugby tournaments, and are growing more and more.

Reflecting upon their trajectory, it is remarkable to think that just a year ago, they had no resources, membership, and sponsorship, with only their social media presence and logo.

Much has changed over that time.

Matt continued: “Presently, we stand as a two-time award-winning team, supported by two active sponsors, outfitted with match kit, and equipped with an array of essential gear befitting a fully-fledged team.

“We take pride in the substantive growth and development we have realised over the preceding 12-month period, eagerly anticipating the prospects that lie ahead in the next 12.”

Reuben,  a Sponsorship Officer a Transmanian Devils said that being a part of the club goes way beyond what happens on the field on matchday.

They said: “We support our members and other rugby teams through education and training, mental health resources, advocacy and activism and careful consideration of sponsors.

“We hope to provide education and training to other teams which raise awareness about transgender issues, including sensitivity training for coaches and teammates.

“The first step in doing this has been through demonstrating how trans inclusion and sensitivity can be achieved at our own training sessions and when attending tournaments. 

“We help our members to find local teams which have a positive history in supporting trans and gender non-confirming players.

“We also support trans masc members in completing the risk assessments required for them to play on men’s rugby teams as part of the RFU’s gender participation policy.”

The team also offers mental health support, providing helpful resources that people can use when needed. Not to mention a supportive network of individuals, too.

Reuben added: “We recognise the importance of providing a supportive network for individuals facing challenges related to gender identity and expression.”

The club engages in advocacy and activism to promote greater inclusion and acceptance of transgender and gender non-conforming athletes in sports and society.

They are actively challenging discrimination and working towards creating more equitable and inclusive spaces for all athletes. 

Hard work on the field, and hard work off it

On the field, they are aiming to get the results and become a talented rugby team. They are also flying the flag for the skills and talents of transgender and gender non-conforming athletes while promoting diversity and inclusion in sports.

Off the field, the Transmanian Devils want to collaborate with charities and organisations on transgender advocacy campaigns to raise awareness, promote acceptance, and advocate for the rights of transgender individuals in sports and society.

They are also looking to work with other rugby teams to create a safe and inclusive environment for all players, regardless of gender identity or expression.

How to Get involved with Transmanian Devils RFC

The best way to get involved is through following and messaging us on instagram (@transmaniandevilsrfc).

You can also find them on Facebook or email [email protected] for more information

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