Quidditch has an AWESOME gender policy! The International Quidditch Association has genuinely broken new grounds by developing truly inclusive policies that promote and foster gender inclusivity while challenging people to think about gender identity, expression and the traditional binary system many sports still employ. Quidditch can truly be played be people of all shapes, sizes, genders, cultures, beliefs and more, without ever needing to conform to any strict policies designed to segregate people for any number of reasons. It’s magical!
Wait, you don’t know what Quidditch is and you have no idea how it is played!? Well, I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise as the sport only started to receive more attention following the release of the Harry Potter book series published from 1997-2007 and the film series which were released between 2001-2011. Here’s the gist of it:
“Quidditch is a co-ed contact sport with a unique mix of elements from rugby, dodgeball, and tag. A quidditch team is made up of seven athletes who play with brooms between their legs at all times. While the game can appear chaotic to the casual observer, once familiar with the basic rules, quidditch is an exciting sport to watch and even more exciting to play.
Three chasers score goals worth 10 points each with a volleyball called the quaffle. They advance the ball down the field by running with it, passing it to teammates, or kicking it. Each team has a keeper who defends the goal hoops. Two beaters use dodgeballs called bludgers to disrupt the flow of the game by “knocking out” other players. Any player hit by a bludger is out of play until they touch their own goals. Each team also has a seeker who tries to catch the snitch. The snitch is a ball attached to the waistband of the snitch runner, a neutral athlete in a yellow uniform who uses any means to avoid capture. The snitch is worth 30 points and its capture ends the game. If the score is tied after the snitch catch, the game proceeds into overtime.”
– International Quidditch Association‘s description of the sport
So, how exactly is Quidditch more gender inclusive than Roller Derby? Well…
1. Quidditch Does Not Define Genders
At all! Female, male or otherwise, the International Quidditch Association (IQA) does not define any gender identity in any of its rules, policies or procedures. The IQA’s stance is simple: “The gender that a player identifies with is considered to be that player’s gender, which may or may not be the same as that person’s sex.” This is amazing as it allows athletes to be themselves and does not insist they must meet some sort of vaguely defined biological or social standard in order to be allowed to participate. Come as you are and get yo’ Quidditch on!
2. Quidditch Does Not Enforce the Gender Binary
Not one bit! In fact, the About Us section states that: “The IQA accepts those who don’t identify within the binary gender system, and acknowledge that not all of our players identify as male or female.” The page then links readers to information on Title 9 3/4, which is the official advocacy and awareness branch of the IQA dedicating to ensuring that all policies implemented by the IQA actively promote gender equality and strive for true inclusivity. As fans of the Harry Potter books and/or films have no doubt figured out, Title 9 3/4 gets its name from the fictional platform where students caught the Hogwarts Express to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I think more sports could do with their own Title 9 3/4 branches!
3. Quidditch is Actively Challenging the Way People Think About Gender in Sports and Athletics
In fact, Quidditch actually encourages teams to be as inclusive as they possibly can be through the Two-Minimum Rule, which “ensures that teams are working to recruit and to field a team that has diversity; the rule is also written in such a way that it does not exclude individuals who do not identify within the gender binary.” This rule stipulates that “each team must have at least two players in play who identify with a different gender than at least two other players. the IQA wants every member team to question their preconceived beliefs about gender and athletics while actively recruiting any combination participants who self-identify as male, female, transman, transwoman, transmasculine, transfeminine, transgender, transsexual, androgynous, genderqueer, gender fluid, non-gendered, or any other of the numerous gender identities out there. Their reasoning for this initiative is explained as such:
“When all genders are able to compete equally on the pitch, they will learn to respect and value each other’s abilities regardless of gender identity. It is well researched that sports participation improves the lives of those who identify as or are perceived as female, and levels the “playing field” not only in sports but in every aspect of society. Quidditch takes those benefits a step further by promoting a sport that is truly free of gender-based restrictions, rather than evenly segregated between men and women (as it currently exists under Title IX). Title IX additionally continues to exclude those who do not identify with the binary gender system. Through Title 9 ¾, the IQA is more inclusive to trans* individuals by using gender as opposed to sex in policies. We understand that the process of transition is a very personal (and expensive) decision, and is influenced by many factors, none of which are, or should be, because a sport requires it. The IQA also hopes to be a positive example for other sport leagues as well as a way to positively influence how players view other genders.”
“Are you being serious right now, Kevlar?”
Actually… I am! Truth of the matter is that Quidditch is a sport just as much as Roller Derby is.
Look at the standings page and you’ll see that there are 150+ Quidditch teams operating out of High Schools, Universities, Colleges and communities across the world. Look at the events page and you’ll see that there are numerous tournaments and single game events all over the calendar. The sport has its own Regionals, Nationals and has hosted a total of 7 World Cups to date, the last of which featured 60 competing teams. There is also an annual Quidditch convention called QuidCon where passionate athletes and participants meet to learn about the game, compete and watch their favorite teams challenge one another.
Roller Derby also features hundreds of leagues worldwide. It also has Regional, National and World Cup events and once a year their is a Roller Derby convention called RollerCon, where passionate athletes and participants meet to learn about the game, compete and watch their favorite teams challenge one another. Furthermore, just like with the IQA and sport of Quidditch in general, Roller Derby is also relatively new to the modern athletic scene and is constantly working to be seen, heard and appreciated by the public.
If Quidditch can work to break down the walls of gender segregation in sports, so can Roller Derby! I have heard from a number of sources that the Men’s Roller Derby Association has been hard at work developing the simplest and most inclusive gender policy from any derby organization yet.
Will the MRDA be the first to not define gender? Will it be the first to use inclusive language that does not contribute to any athlete or participant feeling that they need to conform or go away?
I, for one, can’t wait to find out!
Really wanting to go see a Quidditch game now!