A roller derby story
I’ve been involved in Roller Derby for longer than I’ve considered myself trans. I developed some close relationships with my team-mates and made some brilliant friends, whilst keeping fit and being badass. We had socials and parties, meetings and votes. We raised money for charities, put on huge events and helped our local communities. When I became too physically ill to play and train regularly, my team supported me. When I realised that I was a trans person, I became really scared that my female team wouldn’t want me anymore and that I would lose a whole support network. What actually happened was that I came out to my team privately. They rallied around me, sent me messages saying how much they love me and are behind me 100% of the way in whatever I choose to do and now they are even arguing over what my new name will be (the leaders are now ‘Jussi’ and ‘Finn’). I think they might even be planning me a “born again” party on the sly.
I have met many trans people whilst being involved in roller derby, many wonderful people who have really suffered. Some people are just involved for the sense of community and don’t skate. Some people skate for their teams and are brilliant at it, valued and celebrated. Any transphobia in the community is instantly quashed, and it’s rare. For every transphobic voice, there will be 10 more trans-positive voices drowning that person out.
If anyone here is interested in roller derby, my league has a male team (The Bomb S’quad) as well as a female team. I have checked with their policies and we use the UKRDA (UKRoller Derby Association) rules set/policies. This means that anyone attending, whatever their birth gender and place on their transition journey, can compete as the gender they identify as, no questions asked. For people who are non-binary, the UKRDA have this to say: “If individuals with these identities have joined a female team, presumably it’s because they are happy to be seen as female in the context of roller derby. Similarly with someone who joins a male team. It’s good manner to note the pronouns that individuals with a genderqueer/fluid/neutral or bigendered identity may prefer, and not to make assumptions about this.”
My league also had this to say: “I think if someone really doesn’t not feel comfortable ‘picking a side’ as it were…there are plenty of co-ed opportunities available and they can continue to train with both teams (a lot of people train with both anyway)” and “Everyone is welcome, we wouldn’t stand for anything less.”.
In the next couple of weeks my team are starting their new fresh meat season, and I will be there as a general tutor/support for the first couple of sessions (although I haven’t skated in a while so that will be interesting!!). If anyone is interested in trying out for this high-powered sport which is great for fitness and in a lovely supportive team, please let me know and I will hook you up with the right people! Word of warning, my league is based in Eastbourne. It seems like a long way away, but much of the team is Brighton based anyway. There aren’t as many male roller derby (merby) teams as female teams at the moment, but there are rapidly becoming more and more and the sport in general is quite exciting to watch.
Any team that abides by the UKRDA policies are required to be trans-inclusive, and there are plenty of them registered in the UK, not just my team in Eastbourne. Teams have to jump through several hoops to become UKRDA registered so not all teams are. If in doubt, enquire with your local league and see- there’s sure to be one near you.
Also, if you’re under 18, my league has a kid’s team (The New Bournes). Though small at the moment, it’s co-ed and run by some of the most wonderful people and including some of the most rebellious cool kids I’ve ever met .
Here is a flyer for my team’s Fresh Meat event, if you’re interested. Please ignore the “women only, 18+”. The event is open to all, regardless of gender.
If you have any questions, please contact someone through the group or try these links: http://bournebombshells.wix.com/bombshells
http://ukrda.org.uk/?p=727 (copy of the UKRDA transgender policy)