Welcome Blair Hamilton, VYD’s Equality & Diversity Officer

We’re delighted to have appointed, Blair Hamilton, our new Equality & Diversity Officer at VYD. Not only that, Blair is a fabulous coach who is helping us to deliver our life-changing projects. We caught up with Blair and asked her to tell us a little about herself…

New Equality and Diversity Officer of VYD CIC

Firstly, I want to thank the VYD for appointing me as the organisation’s new Equality and Diversity Officer and Coach. Football is a massive part of my life and Diversity within football is something that I am extremely passionate about, creating equal opportunities with the removal of systemic barriers for everyone.

Some of you, I have already met since arriving in Brighton from Aberdeen in February, at some of our many projects such as the Hawks Heroes and the Bevy ‘Team Talk’ projects. However, many of you, will not have realised who I am and that is because I live my life predominantly in a football kit/tracksuit which is pretty gender-neutral. However, I am a transwoman athlete, transitioned in early 2017 and 2018 became the first transwoman to play football in the Scottish Women’s Football pyramid playing at the Championship level with Stonehaven Ladies FC, Grampian Ladies FC, as well as the top British University and College Sport (BUCS) level in Scotland with Aberdeen University[1]. I am now Montpelier Villa’s Women’s first-choice goalkeeper and I am very thankful for that opportunity also while I also trialed for the University of Brighton Women’s team on the 9th of October. Hopefully, both teams will have great success this season. 

The reason for moving to Brighton was to uptake a position at the University of Brighton to be the principal investigator in the Tavistock Transgender Athlete Study(TTAS)[2]. The TTAS will follow 20 transwomen and 20 transmen during their hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and compare them against an athletic female cohort. The idea and goal of the TTAS are to elucidate to what extent trans-athletes have an advantage or disadvantage, which we would then be able to create new inclusion policies based on the science, creating a fair non-discriminatory playing field for all. As far I know, my lab in Brighton is one of only 3 laboratories working on this worldwide, with one in Sweden[3] and one in Loughborough, UK. I look forward to reporting the studies results in 3 years.

As for being passionate about equality and diversity, I believe no one should be treated detrimentally due to any characteristics such as race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or anything else. There is no doubt, and I’m not naive enough to think otherwise, that I have been on the receiving end of Transphobic abuse from within football. Ironically this has never happened by someone shouting or saying something in my face but just recently an opposing player refused to shake my hand and there were “comments made in the stand” about me playing in goal, even after I had LOST the game. This has no place in football, and I have tirelessly campaigned for Transgender inclusion in sport as long as they follow the current International Olympic Committees eligibility rules [4]. This has led me far and wide including several interviews with the broadcasters both sides of the pond in the US and UK[1]. So much so that I was invited to speak at the British Association of Gender Identity Specialists (BAGIS) symposium in October 2019 about my experiences in sport and the science behind my inclusion and I am sure that this made me an ideal candidate for my doctorate position.

Blair during coaching for The Bevy’s Team Talk session for VYD

Since joining the women’s team in February 2020, I have also taken up several other positions within Montpelier Villa Football club. I am currently occupying the positions of head of sports science, assistant academy director, U12 boys lead coach as well as a lead coach on many VYD projects for underprivileged populations. Coaching has always been a massive passion in my life, and I was lucky enough to spend 6 wonderful years in Newtown Connecticut USA, where I was able to coach my way through the levels from recreational soccer to High School Varsity soccer, gaining many qualifications along the way. There is no better feeling than developing and enabling the players’ personality, as well as the players’ technical ability. We have to remember that coaches won’t create a lot of professional players, but they can create a lot of great rounded people.

During my time here and in our attempts to drive the organisation forward, the committee and I both agreed and identified that a new approach was needed to focus and channel our attempts to end racism, tackle homophobia, tackle transphobia, and/or any other forms of discrimination head-on. VYD is a program for EVERYONE, just as football is a sport for EVERYONE.  I look forward to making this organisation a frontrunner in the fight for equality and diversity. We will SAY something, we will DO something, we will STOP discrimination.

Yours in football,

Blair R. Hamilton1-3,

https://research.brighton.ac.uk/en/persons/blair-hamilton

1 Collaborating Centre of Sports Medicine, University of Brighton, Eastbourne, UK

2 Centre for Stress and Age-related Disease, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK

3 The Gender Identity Clinic Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

References

1. McLaughlin C. Transgender debate: Scottish footballer says ‘the barriers are coming down’. BBC, BBC Sport. 2019. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/47438175. Accessed 29th April 2020.

2. Hamilton B, Guppy F, Pitsiladis Y. Effects of Sex Steroids on the Sporting Performance of Transgender Individuals, with a focus on bone health, lung function and skeletal muscle physiology. A question of advantage or disadvantage? 2020 doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/75PY3.

3. Wiik A, Lundberg T, Rullman E, Andersson D, Holmberg M, Mandić M et al. Muscle Strength, Size, and Composition Following 12 Months of Gender-affirming Treatment in Transgender Individuals. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism. 2020;105(3).

4. Commitee IO. Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism November 2015. 2015. https://stillmed.olympic.org/Documents/Commissions_PDFfiles/Medical_commission/2015-11_ioc_consensus_meeting_on_sex_reassignment_and_hyperandrogenism-en.pdf.