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LGFA ‘developing policy’ on transgender players after ladies’ shield final incident

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There was an objection to a transgender woman playing in a ladies’ shield final in Dublin on Wednesday

There was an objection to a transgender woman playing in a ladies’ shield final in Dublin on Wednesday

There was an objection to a transgender woman playing in a ladies’ shield final in Dublin on Wednesday

The Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) has said it is developing a policy around transgender players.

It comes in the week where was an objection to a transgender woman playing in a ladies’ shield final in Dublin.

Na Gaeil Aeracha, the GAA’s first openly LGBT club, last Wednesday won its first silverware when it beat Na Fianna’s ladies E team in the Dublin Junior J Shield football final.

Before the game, a Na Fianna manager approached the referee to question the presence of Giulia Valentino, a transgender woman, in the opposition team.

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

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

Na Gaeil Aeracha’s captain said that Valentino was a trans woman but the referee said “this is the Ladies’ Gaelic football association”.

He advised Na Gaeil Aeracha that even if they substituted the number 21, Na Fianna would have the right to appeal the result over the player’s eligibility.

Valentino was later taken off as a blood substitute but returned and played until half time when she was fully substituted.

Na Gaeil Aeracha won the game 7-11 to 1-5. Valentino’s presence on the team was highlighted by a number of Twitter accounts that posted a photograph of her playing the semi-final match against Ballyboden St Enda’s.

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Many posts falsely claimed that Valentino scored 2-09 in the final although she was scoreless. Twitter suspended a number of accounts that posted Valentino’s picture.

Na Gaeil Aeracha locked all its social media accounts to private since Valentino’s playing in the match was highlighted. It did not respond to questions this weekend.

Its club policy said any person playing for the club “may play at training or in a match for the team they best identify with, without restriction”.

Valentino has been an outspoken proponent for transgender people being allowed to play sports in the gender they choose.

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

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

She has been critical of a World Rugby decision to ban trans women from playing elite women’s rugby. She told a Gay Community News discussion last year that while playing for a rugby team in Dublin she was asked to use a separate changing room.

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

Asked about its rules on transgender players, the LGFA said it is “currently working in consultation with our counterparts in the GAA, and from other sporting organisations, in relation to developing policy in this area”.

Na Fianna did not respond to queries.

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

It said “each situation [is] assessed on a case by case manner to ensure player safety is prioritised”.


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