Gender inclusive sport: a paradigm shift for research, policy, and practice

Sheree Bekker, Ryan Storr, Seema Patel, Payoshni Mitra

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


This commentary develops the concept of gender inclusive sport: sport that is inclusive and affirming of––and safe for––all women and sex and gender minoritized people, regardless of whether their bodies, gender expression, and/or identity align neatly with normative notions of the female/male binary. Debates about the sports participation of transgender (trans) athletes and athletes with natural sex variations often assume a choice between inclusion on one side and fairness on the other, particularly in the context of women’s sport. In this commentary, we instead demonstrate the value of approaching equity and inclusion as allied causes. We offer four principles of Gender Inclusive Sport as an alternative policy and research paradigm: lead with inclusion; de-centre regulatory science; increase access to community and youth sport; and double down on gender equity. Whereas sports studies scholars have often focused on the important work of critiquing the existing regulatory and epistemic practices of sports governing bodies, we call on scholars to also engage in research that expands the knowledge base needed to build change. From the grassroots to the elite level, increasingly, there are opportunities to learn about the best practices and interventions that can support the realisation of Gender Inclusive Sport in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-185
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Issue number1
Early online date17 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Dr Madeleine Pape for her insight in the development of this manuscript.


  • Gender
  • equality
  • inclusion
  • policy
  • sport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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