Ripping Up The Rulebook: Challenges and Opportunities in Moving Beyond the Binary

Han Newman, Gemma Witcomb

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

12 Downloads (Pure)


Sex segregated sporting competitions pose impossible barriers to some gender diverse people. Within some sports, such segregation serves little purpose. Thus, different ways of categorising participants should be explored in order to facilitate inclusive participation for all. This chapter examines an all-gender-inclusive strength athletics event, Limitless, that was developed to provide an opportunity for people of all gender identities to train and compete, with competition categorisation based on ability level. Interviews (n=10) with competitors and spectators following the inaugural competition revealed that the all-gender inclusive event was evaluated very positively. However, the four themes identified (challenging the binary versus further marginalisation, support and blind acceptance, fear of diminishing women’s achievements, and overwhelming challenge) highlight the complexity of events that impugn the gender and/or sex binaries in sport, and the many misconceptions and challenges that accompany discussions around gender identity and sport. The second Limitless competition attracted a large number of cisgender competitors, suggesting that non-sex segregated participation is appealing to all and may be one way to increase general sports participation and activity levels. In conclusion we suggest that increased attention needs to be paid to organising events that are inclusive of all gender identities, which can be used to further normalisation and as a vehicle for social change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGender Diversity and Sport: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on increasing inclusivity
EditorsGemma Witcomb, Elizabeth Peel
Place of PublicationNY
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781003050568
ISBN (Print)9780367506285, 9780367506292
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Ripping Up The Rulebook: Challenges and Opportunities in Moving Beyond the Binary'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this