Transgender and the gender order in sport

Project Leader

  • Håkan Larsson


  • Department of Movement, Culture and Society

Research Funders

  • Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports


Below you can read summaries about the project in English and/or Swedish. The information is taken from the publication database DiVA.

Questions about transgender people's participation in sport have become increasingly topical lately. Transgender individuals have a gender identity other than that which was assigned to them at birth. Alternatively, they may not entirely identify with a particular sex. There are more and more cases of transgender people in competitive sport who 'trouble' the taken for granted gender binary that constitutes sport competitions. Further, transgender individuals often report poor health because of negative experiences of the movement culture.

In 2013, The Swedish Sports Confederation (RF) adopted an anti-discrimination policy specifically aiming to include people regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Some research has started to appear internationally on the issue of transgender in sport. However, there is to date no research in Sweden about how transgender individuals experience the heteronormative sport culture, as well as how sport organisations 'think' about the inclusion of transgender individuals.

The dual purpose of the project is to explore, firstly, the significance of transgender in RF's anti-discrimination policy, and secondly, how transgender people experience participation in the Swedish sports movement.

Theoretically, the project draws on queer theory, with an additional influence of new materialism and critical posthumanism. This theoretical framework will allow the researchers to scrutinise not only how transgender in sport is talked and written about, but, more importantly, how transgender materialise in and through sport. The term materialisation designates the material discursive processes through which, in this case, transgender is perceived as 'something'.

Methodologically, RF's anti-discriminatory policy, specifically regarding the actions for inclusion that it supports, will allow analysis of the significance of transgender. Moreover, vlogs (video blogs) and semi-structured interviews with individuals who identify as transgender will enable analysis of how sport places, spaces and practices contribute to shape transgender in particular ways. A dozen research participants will be recruited for vlog production and interview purposes. The project will be conducted by the main applicant in collaboration with a research assistant who has gained valuable experience of working for transgender individuals' rights.

Funding period

  • 2021 - 2022

Project type

  • Project grant

National Research Field

  • Sport and Fitness Sciences
  • Gender Studies