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Adult Sports League Changing Rules To Protect Trans Athletes After Woman Was Counted As A Man, Her Team Penalized

Players Chicago will now have a rule ensuring athletes "may compete as a member of the gender that they identify with."

Andie Eder (top row, third from right) is a trans woman who helped change the rules at Sports Chicago to be more inclusive after an official misgendered her during a game at Union Park.
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CHICAGO — A popular intramural sports league for Chicagoans is changing its rules after a trans woman was misgendered by a league official.

Players Sports and Social Group offers the city’s adults a chance to play in a variety of sports leagues — but it also has a requirement for how many men and women can be on the field during gameplay. Last week, that rule was used to penalize the team of Andie Eder, a trans woman who was playing kickball for fun with coworkers at Union Park.

At first, the official told Eder’s team and the opposing team both would have to take an out because they didn’t have enough women. Eder and her team were confused but played; afterward, she and several teammates tried to speak to the official, saying they couldn’t find an instance in the league’s rules where gender was defined.

But the official said the league’s policy is to define gender as sex — meaning they wouldn’t count Eder, or any other trans women who play, as a woman.

“When I asked if transgender women did not count as women per league rules, the official replied, ‘That is what the rules say,'” Eder said.

Eder was offended. She said something similar happened during a game through Players Sports last year, but the official who made that call reversed the decision when Eder’s team and the opposing team disputed it.

The officials didn’t apologize in either instance, Eder said.

Eder fired off a tweet to Players Chicago, telling the league its official’s actions at last week’s game were “unacceptable.”

“Nowhere is gender defined in the rulebook,” Eder wrote in her tweet. “Trans people are the gender they identify as. This should not be left to [an] official’s discretion.”

Eder told Block Club Chicago she’d spoken up because while she feels empowered to speak out, others in the LGBTQ community “may not be so fortunate.”

“A rec league kickball match should not be a concern that someone has to feel troubled over,” Eder said.

League President Gary Hazan said his staff spoke with Eder and with several businesses from around the country to revise its guidelines after Eder reached out. They have been working “quickly and diligently” to clarify the rules so they’d be more inclusive, Hazan said.

“Players Sport and Social Group is proud to stand united within the community for equality,” Hazan wrote in an emailed statement. “We are a welcoming organization that is dedicated to providing a safe and fun environment for all customers regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or disabilities.” Hazan wrote in an emailed statement. “In our 26 years of managing recreational sports leagues, this is the first time it has been brought to our attention that our registration and participation guidelines may need to be revised for clarity as it relates to gender identity.”

The league was still putting the “finishing touches” on its new rule as of Wednesday morning, Hazan wrote, but it provided Block Club Chicago with a draft:

“Every individual participating in a Players Sports and Social Group program may compete as a member of the gender that they identify with; regardless of their gender at birth. We expect all players to be respectful and honor the spirit of this policy. Players Sport and Social Group is a LGBTQIA+ friendly (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and other gender identities/expressions).”

Eder said the rule was almost the exact same as what she’d suggested to the league and she thinks it is “effectively inclusive.” She does have a few concerns remaining, including the use of “male and female” instead of “men and women” in part of the rules.

Eder said she’d also like to hear from the league about how it will deal with its rule of requiring up to six men and at least four women at play when there are gender non-conforming people on its teams.

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