LGFA ‘develops policy’ on transgender players after final Women’s Shield incident

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The Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) said it was developing a policy regarding transgender players.

t comes in the week when there was an objection to a transgender woman playing in a women’s shield final in Dublin.

Na Gaeil Aeracha, the first openly LGBT club in the GAA, won their first trophy last Wednesday by beating Na Fianna Women’s E team in the Dublin Junior J Shield football final.

Before the match, a Na Fianna coach approached the referee to question the presence of Giulia Valentino, a transgender woman, in the opposing team.

A source at the game said the referee initially thought Valentino was part of Na Gaeil Aeracha’s back room team until she won a high ball in the opening minutes of the game.

The male referee stopped play after the first break to tell Na Gaeil Aeracha that there was “a problem with your number 21” and told them “the player is a man”.

Na captain Gaeil Aeracha said Valentino was a trans woman but the referee said ‘it’s the women’s Gaelic football association’.

He informed Na Gaeil Aeracha that even if they replaced No.21, Na Fianna would have the right to appeal the result on the player’s eligibility.

Valentino was then withdrawn as a blood substitute, but returned and played until half-time when she was fully substituted.

Na Gaeil Aeracha won the match 7-11 to 1-5. Valentino’s presence in the squad was highlighted by a number of Twitter accounts which posted a photo of her playing the semi-final match against Ballyboden St Enda’s.

Many posts falsely claimed that Valentino scored 2-09 in the final when she didn’t score. Twitter has suspended a number of accounts that posted Valentino’s photo.

Na Gaeil Aeracha has locked all of his social media accounts privately since Valentino’s play in the match came to light. He did not respond to questions this weekend.

Its club policy stated that anyone playing for the club “may play in training or in a match for the team with which they most identify, without restriction”.

Valentino has been a strong supporter of allowing transgender people to exercise in the gender of their choice.

Originally from Italy, she moved to Ireland in 2019 and played rugby with a club in Dublin.

Her Na Gaeil Aeracha profile stated that she joined the GAA club after sustaining an injury playing rugby but wanted to play a women’s game “because of sisterhood, validation and political visibility; as a trans woman, these things are very important to me”.

She criticized World Rugby’s decision to ban trans women from playing elite women’s rugby. She said last year in a discussion on Gay Community News that while playing for a rugby team in Dublin she was asked to use a separate dressing room.

“I’m quite annoyed by this harsh approach,” she said.

Asked about its rules regarding transgender players, the LGFA said it was “currently working in consultation with our counterparts at the GAA and other sporting organizations, with respect to developing policy in this area”.

Na Fianna did not respond to questions.

The Irish Rugby Football Union allows transgender players at club level if a number of criteria are met, including providing medical records showing that a transgender woman’s testosterone levels were below a threshold over the past 12 previous months.

He said “every situation [is] assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure player safety is a priority.”

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