Vanguard Roundtable #3: Gender Identity & New Considerations for Human Performance Programs

by Jen Casson
 | 19th November, 2021




Emma Ostermann 0:06
Hello and welcome to the Vanguard roundtable where we discuss topics that we believe need more attention to drive the human performance industry forward. Today’s topic is gender identity, and new considerations for human performance programs. We do have a few housekeeping items we want to dive into. Our Asia Pacific Summit is coming up in early February in Melbourne, Australia, and could be attended virtually visit Human Performance Summit calm and use the code Vanguard for a 25% discount on in person or virtual registration. We do want to note that the views expressed today are those of the individual panelists and do not necessarily reflect the position of fusion sport or the panelists organization. We do encourage you to submit questions in the QA window, where you’ll also be able to upvote each other’s questions for us to use during the conversation. We’ll also pause during the conversation to take a question from the audience, as well as leave time at the end as well. We do want to hear your feedback. So please take three minutes to tell us what you thought of today’s Vanguard round table and what topics you’d like us to consider for future sessions. For every survey completed, fusion sport will donate $5 to Girls Who Code a global nonprofit working quote to close the gender gap in tech. We will put that survey monkey link in the chat for you to access later on. As well as at the end of today’s roundtable. We will use that QR code for you to scan as well. And I am excited to be able to introduce today’s participants. First that we have Julia Julia is a sport neuro scientist who talks loudly about load management, speed, pain, ministration stress, queer issues and athlete mental health. before founding white line performance group she coached at the collegiate level and research in clinical psychology. She now partners with clubs and institutions as a sport neuroscience consultant, athletic coach and instructor. She prioritizes healthy humans over everything. Next up is ash back on. Ash is a bold, dynamic presenter who speaks about empathy, respect, and the power of having no conversations with over 300 public talks on her belt, including Harvard University, Procter and Gamble and the CIA. Ash is now highly sought after diversity, inclusion and leadership Keno online videos of her TEDx talks coming out of your closet and owning your jewelry have gone viral with more than 8 million YouTube views. And finally, our third panelist for today, Brianna Dirksen Bergen Brina, played volleyball at the University of British Columbia for five years and received a Bachelor of English and a Bachelor of Education during that time. She began working as a fiscal health education teacher in 2013. at Stratford Hall, IB World Bank school in Vancouver, Canada, where she was sponsored teacher for the school’s Gender Sexuality alliance for four years. She is passionate about gender inclusive inclusiveness and the importance of honoring individual experiences, while breaking through barriers to participation and sport. And my name is Mo strummin. I am a human performance consultants here at Fusion sport. And we’re excited for today’s conversation. And while preparing for this conversation, we didn’t know that there was terminology for us to be able to understand to be able to move this, this talk forward. And while this is not an exhaustive list, of all the terminology that could relate to this topic, we do believe it is a great starting point. And for more terms and definitions, there is a link down at the bottom that you can visit to get a more inclusive list regarding this terminology. And I do want to invite our panelists to also talk about you know, the terminology that they’ve experienced and Ash I’m gonna kick it over to you because I know you have a really good metaphor that can help you know bring this terminology to a better understanding for for our audience today.

Ash Beckham 4:09
Absolutely, thanks so much for having me. I’m so excited to be on the call with these Julia and bring them it’s gonna be a really fun conversation. I wish I wish we could have coffee in person but but I guess is the best we can do right now. So for me really, it’s about having started these conversations having basic conversations, right? And so a really easy way to understand this. And obviously, everything is more interesting. The example I’m about to give but a lot of times under the LGBTQ umbrella, we start talking about sex and gender and sexuality and a I think it freaks people out and they don’t want to talk about it especially with their athletes and then be it’s it all becomes taboo. And so to me to break these concepts down so and this termini This is reflected in the in the slide that you see but it’s Sex, just purely sex is physical body, genitalia, and and most often, the sexual assigned at birth aligns with the genitalia that you have, right. So that is that is just pure sex that’s male, female, that’s biology. And then if you get into gender identity, gender expression, those are integrally related. So gender identity being how do I feel on the inside? Right? How do I how do I totally feel as a person cisgendered meaning that the gender I feel aligns with the gender I was assigned at birth, transgendered, meaning those things do not align? And then gender expression? How do we put that gender out in the world? Right, so So how do I dress? How do I wear my hair? What are what are the kind of the stereotypes that I that I feel, if any in the world, and then the last one is sexuality, meaning, who am I romantically or physically attracted to you, and this kind of these spools are kind of like on a slot machine, right. So every time you pull it, they happen independently. And they’re not related to each other. So even the kind of they go under that umbrella of LGBTQ i plus, right, the independent, so we’re talking about our athletes, those are independent experiences. And just because you have one doesn’t mean you necessarily have the other. So for me, assigned female at birth, I am cisgendered, I have always felt female, my gender expression is androgynous, to masculine, right, so you’ll be hard pressed to find me in a in a dress after, say, 94, right. And so so I feel like that is just how I feel most comfortable in the world, how I feel most confident in the world. And then my sexuality, for anybody interested, is, I think, always on a spectrum. But I have a wife, we have two wonderful kids. And so I’m sexually attracted to women. And so any of those things, as those spools hit in that slot machine, and they aren’t interrelated, they get put under that umbrella, but they are independent. So we’re looking at our athletes, we’re looking at their human experience, we have to know that that just because one of those things may be confusing to them, and therefore confusing to us, they happen independently. And they’re things that we need to look at individually on a per athlete basis to, to really support them as as as we fully need to, because each one of those require different kind of points of attention. So that was just kind of my sexual slot machine is, is the the basic understanding of that terminology for me the visual, that’s helpful.

Julia Eyre 7:34
Sexual slot machine. That’s amazing. I would also like to add that I have also not worn a dress since 1994. And I was born in that year. So thank you, Oh, very good. Lesbians for the win. Am I can I add on to that with talking about the word queer? Okay, of course. Yes, definitely. So another term that we’d like to clarify and and bring out maybe you can add to this as well, your thoughts is the term queer as kind of an umbrella term that’s coming back around a couple decades ago, that was actually a slur. Like if you called somebody, you’re a queer, or these queer people, whatever that was actually derogative. And we’ve kind of taken that back in the younger generation. So millennials and Gen Z tend to use queer as an umbrella term for, like a non normative gender expression or a Yeah, almost a queer sexuality, but basically belonging to the LGBT community in any one of these ways. So if I identify, for example, I identify as a queer woman, and it gets confusing. But that’s my particular terminology that I choose to use. So when I’m working with athletes, not only do I ask them their pronouns, for example, but I, I pick up on cues, like how did they refer to themselves? Specifically? How did they speak about this? What are they comfortable with, and then I try to use those words with them, because everybody will have their own expression. For example, Ashe introduced herself as a lesbian, and I would call myself either a queer woman, or a gay woman, for example, just because the the small changes in where you were raised, or culturally or how old you are, there’s a wide range of ages in our community. Obviously, there have always been queer people have always been gay people. So again, this is specific to the athlete or coach or person that we’re talking to just picking up on the terminology that they use, but queer is something that we use just as an umbrella term for somebody who belongs to this community.

Emma Ostermann 9:32
I love that. And I think that’s a really good segue. Thank you, Ash and Julia. And to our first question, and, and Brene, I’m going to turn to you for this is why is the topic of gender identity important as it relates to optimizing human performance brand?

Brina Derksen-Bergen 9:45
Thanks, Emma. Yeah, thanks for having me here. And Ash and Julia, it’s awesome to be talking with you. So yeah, thanks for it. I just wanted to add that a really good resource for that as well as something called the Gender unicorn. So if you want to look online, it’s more on the education side of things, but it helps a person. Okay, so gender identity, why is it important for performance? So I think the first thing, kind of what I noticed is kind of a difference between the individual and the community when we’re thinking about sport in particular. And I think every single individual has a gender identity, which is really important to note, it’s not exclusive to someone who’s non binary, everybody has a gender identity that is diverse from someone else. And from their experience, which is shaped a lot by our families, or friends or environments, all those things. And then within the community, especially within the sports community, sometimes, though, that diversity of gender identity is not accepted or recognized because of the gender binary. So thinking about that, like community, ideal sports are an amazing tool for community health and happiness and confidence. And so if we don’t have people who have tools to be successful in the sporting world, if people don’t feel safe in sporting communities, and if they’re not kept safe in those places, then how can we really, truly have overall community health. And I know that’s more of it’s less on the elite sports side of things, it’s more on the lifelong appreciation of sport. But I think if we don’t acknowledge the diversity of gender identity within sports, we are being exclusive by nature, and losing out on a lot of human potential. I think my one of my like, favorite quotes from one of my favorites and inspirations was Rick Hansen, a Canadian Paralympic athlete. He talks about how sport is a near for society. And it reflects how we view ourselves. And I want to see an inclusive world sport. Yeah.

Emma Ostermann 12:02
I love that Asha. Julia, do either of you have anything to add on to you know, what Bina said? or anything else related to that question?

Ash Beckham 12:12
I’ll just jump in real quick. I feel like so that it’s so critical. And it’s even just the the frame with which you kind of build the industry is it’s about human performance, right sound about it, that’s a broad scale. And, and like so many things in this, and especially for people that are into data and analytics, we want it to be black and white, right. But that’s not who you’re, you’re not coaching a spreadsheet, right? Or an app, like you’re coaching a human and their human experience, whatever their diversity might be gender, otherwise, it’s critical that we tap into that to serve them in the best way possible. And gender identity is is one of those those things, and it’s our responsibility as, as coaches and as leaders to to be as informed as possible, right? We don’t we don’t just shy away from it, because it makes us uncomfortable, don’t understand it, or isn’t our personal experience so limited, and how we can how we can coach that we really have to dive in especially I think, as we get into athletes that are, you know, Gen Z and and as they continue to get younger, that that fluidity, and that identity is part of the person that they are and they have an expectation that will be respected. And so if it isn’t, I think your program is at a competitive disadvantage. And if it’s not, then you’re not getting the full athlete, right. And if you’re not getting the full athlete, then there’s no way they can perform to their full potential. And that is, by definition, what we’re trying to do. And so I think it’s looking at that at the athlete very holistically, knowing that those individual challenges are something that that need to be addressed and need to be acknowledged for for us to fully support them in the ways that we need to.

Julia Eyre 13:53
Yeah, I want to snack on to that with saying that, as somebody who’s an advocate for the athlete health above the human performance, I believe that a healthy and happy athlete can always outperform a very unhappy and unhealthy athlete. But the reverse is not true, unfortunately, that it’s not just psychological support that we’re giving them in this but also physiological support. So as a sports scientist, and we’ll get into this later, there are considerations that need to be made, as we go through the next 1020 years and start to regularly have transgender athletes and all of our sports and like we also in youth sports, and need to start having these health conversations as well. And I know we will get to that today. So I’ll let you do the transition.

Emma Ostermann 14:38
I love that. Thank you for each of you. And I want to move this along to ash. And this next question is how would you advise starting the conversation on gender identity in a sports or military team setting? And what are the challenges that you may need to be overcome and starting these conversations? Ash,

Ash Beckham 14:54
I think is the leader within this within whatever group we’re speaking of. We really have to take into context, right? Like, who is participating? Who are we trying to serve? What is their experience? Right? Like, what what level are where do we need to start. And then I think it’s also critical to have it be a conversation often in a team environment, we do all sorts of professional, we do all sorts of personal development, right and getting to know each other better. And, and knowing that we want this, this full essence of belonging and building, the team is really knowing how to support each other. And, and, and again, it’s in this much more broad way than than just on the field, right. And I think having that culture of belonging that’s so critical to a team for so many people that are in a marginalized group. But again, you can insert, you know, race, gender, and anything in there. But if you’re part of a marginalized group, you find that safety team and and that is, I love to bring this quote, right. Like, that’s where we get to try things in our world, that then we then feel empowered to take into our everyday life, right, when when we know we have the support of our teammates. And so I think starting from a team building aspect is really, really critical. I also think that we don’t just address these issues, when we have somebody who identifies as gender fluid on our team, right? We, when we ask somebody their pronouns, we’re not we it’s twofold. twofold impact there, a, if it’s somebody who is not on a, you know, traditional normative spectrum of gender, it’s a signal of safety almost immediately, like you, for any of us that have had that experience when somebody out of the context of an LGBTQ space asks you, your pronouns, for me, my shoulders instantly drop, like this place gets me and I, she, her are my pronouns. But I know that this is a space that is sensitive to that. So a, I feel safe. B, if I am somebody who is cisgendered, straight, right? It should at least piqued my interest of why we’re having this conversation, right? Like, it allows me versation to start that even though that doesn’t deal with me directly as a sis hetero normative woman, there are people in the community, or people that I will come in contact with throughout my sports and professional life, that that question is incredibly impactful for and so how am I empowered to then be that ally? So So I think we always do this not, we don’t just set a reactive space, right? If we’re going to create an inclusive environment, we do it on the front end, not just because we have a queer kid on the team, but way in the beginning to create an environment and to allow these athletes when they’re no longer on our team, to be those advocates for inclusivity those advocates for equality, giving them the words and the terminology to do that. And so I think we, we see our role not as just dealing with tension or questions, any team, but creative, inclusive environments from the jump, because that way, whatever diversity comes towards us, we need to handle it as a team, proactively and productively.

Emma Ostermann 18:09
Gosh, I love that. And Brene I am going to turn that to you as well.

Brina Derksen-Bergen 18:14
Yeah, totally. I was listening to ash talk about inclusion and belonging. And I think one of the most important pieces of belonging is not only feeling that welcoming piece, which means sharing your pronouns or it also means valuing the individual for you their uniqueness. So in order for someone to feel accepted, they can’t just, you know, become a number or part of the crew, they have to be seen for for their individuality as well and their diversity. A little anecdote about kind of starting that conversation. I teach a Sports Leadership class. And a few years ago, we were talking and having a conversation about barriers to participation in sport. And I was kind of guiding it in the students came up with the idea of gender as a barrier to participation. And so I prompted them to kind of continue it and speak further about it. And they decided that they wanted to pull members of our GSA, our gender sexuality Alliance and ask them about their sport experience at our school. And obviously, it wasn’t a perfect study that they did, and it wasn’t like, completely all encompassing, but the information that we came out of it was that not everybody does feel safe. And I don’t think that we would have gotten those same responses. In that beginning that conversation if myself as the teacher had asked the question, the peers themselves, were the ones to kind of pursue that. So I think thinking about the power, dynamics of relationships, and thinking about kind of where you are today. She waited if you are someone who holds power or who is a leader, thinking about if if someone will feel safe enough to speak with you.

Emma Ostermann 20:12
I love that. And we do have some questions that are coming through on the chat and in our QA portal and Brina. Julia, because I know you’ve worked directly with athletes, one of the questions that came through are, are you seeing a lot more openness or exploration of gender identity expression with younger generations? Have you been either have you experienced that in your professional setting so far?

Julia Eyre 20:36
So I work in youth sports, and for the most part, I have to say, at the moment is just gender expression. And that’s completely normal. And also, I would recommend as well the gender expression shift or gender identity as well shifting a little bit as a young person is also normal. It’s for me about again, having this openness when they come in and a little boy is more feminine Lee dressed and saying, I love the nails, I’m digging it, I’m digging the hat, like what’s going on here, and just being supportive of every one of their expressions and identities, regardless of what it is. And having an absolute no tolerance policy for bullying, mobbing anything like that, obviously, on my teams, and following through with that, as a coach or as a member of staff like taking the responsibility for when I see it actually taking action on it and leading with being respectful and drawing positive attention to a person or if there’s somebody who I got a couple players who were a little bit more shy about these things and needed a little bit of coaxing out, not drawing attention to those things specifically and trying to be respectful of again, what that individual athlete needs. But in my experience, so far, as I said, it’s been more of playing with gender expression, as I work with under 13. And then over 18 At the moment, and less of exactly identity playing at the moment, but again, totally normal in that age.

Emma Ostermann 22:09
Rena, how about you, especially in the setting that you’re in?

Brina Derksen-Bergen 22:13
Yeah, 100%. I think part of that comes from the culture shift. And, and part of that comes from younger students seeing representation in older students. And that makes a huge difference. Just allowing, right, just saying it’s fine, it’s okay, it’s good. And seeing those older students take leadership roles within the context of the school and within the context of sport makes a massive difference, as well as in our school institution, making sure that conversations around sexual health and gender identity are happening at the elementary school age. So having those conversations younger, is really important. And people tend to freak out about that. But it’s so important. So that’s yeah, that’s about everything.

Emma Ostermann 23:07
I love it. Thank you guys, for those for those insights. And I do want to keep this moving along. And, Julie, I’m going to turn to you for this next question. There are performance metrics specific to male and female physiology. For instance, menstrual cycle for females, testosterone levels for males, how do we continue to track and utilize these metrics? When someone identifies

Brina Derksen-Bergen 23:27
differently? Julia,

Julia Eyre 23:31
you have to be really, really careful with data, if there’s anything that I’ve learned from being a scientist is that we have to be very responsible with the science that we do. And always try and strive to do good science and protect the people who are involved with it as well. So I’ll try to go out this a little bit generally, and then give some specific action points. So I come at this question from a load management perspective, where both you know, when we talk about hormones, or anatomy being the major players major differences in the gender binary, and when we’re talking about Yeah, somebody who is in a, let’s say, I’m trying to express this as generally as possible and also in English, and my brain is like Hello, German and nine o’clock at night. Hello, you can you’re only getting this out in German at this point. But somebody who has a non normative gender expression or a non normative is transgender, for example, or just non binary, and at the moment, not having teams for those people. So they’re playing for for example, if I am a transgender male, then I would play on the men’s team, for example, however, now we run into the issue of I’m probably menstruating still because I was born in a female body and unless I’ve had a couple of surgeries, and had my had some hormonal assistance, let’s say without getting again into more specifics, you We still need to track my menstrual cycle, because that’s still having an impact on my performance and my health and my life. And so that’s something for example, when we as coaches are doing load management, we need to have this on both the female and the male side, because there will be athletes coming through again, especially youth athletes in the next year with this acceptance of society. And I’d like to clarify, again, as Rena was saying, it’s not that more people are suddenly gay, it’s that people are, like allowed to come out now because it’s safe to. And so this younger generation is more empowered to come out and seeing us and seeing this representation, and so it will continue to happen, it’s not going to stop. So integrating this into our load management surveys, with the options, for example, of are you menstruating right now, yes, no, or not applicable. So if I am a male born in a male body, I just hit not applicable, because I’m never going to menstruate, and I’m answering today, I’m not menstruating tomorrow, not doing it next week. So just not applicable for me, if I’m a transgender male, so born in a female body, still have a little bit of a cycle going on, I can click yes, once every three months, I menstruating. And then we have a good idea of where this where we are in the cycle, still being able to track the menstrual cycle and still be able to use, you know, nor where their hormones where their physiology is, so that we can train as best we can and control their load and allow them to regenerate. So obviously, load management is a huge thing in sports science, and something that we need to consider expanding as we expand our understanding of who our athletes are and what they need from us in order to keep them healthy. And this is again, a health and performance thing. We obviously need low management to keep them healthy, but it also will help them perform better as well as we can adjust our training around it. So that’s where I would

Brina Derksen-Bergen 26:50
start. Can I ask you a question Julia? Worse? So this is for my bio teachers out there? What is I’m asking about, like, language or physiology? Do you see new words being developed to instead of just female and male anatomy? Like, are you noticing changes in language in the science community?

Julia Eyre 27:17
What I’m noticing is more precise. verbiage. So we’re talking like we’re using the actual anatomical language, as opposed to being like when we’re talking about female anatomy, we’re just talking about a uterus, fallopian tubes, and everything else going down in the nether regions, right. So we’re just listing it off as as if it’s a fact, as opposed to taking the generalized hashtag female off of an organ and just naming it as an organ? Is that helpful? I have to also emphasize that I’m in Germany. So we might do that a little bit differently. But that’s all that I’ve come across at the moment.

Emma Ostermann 27:55
I think that’s perfect. And there is a question that came through and ash, I do want to turn this to you came through in our QA, what are some small ways we can create a more inclusive environment that makes a big impact? I know Julia spoke on that a little bit when it comes to data collection, but from your experience, and in the people that you work with? Have you have any advice regarding that?

Ash Beckham 28:14
Sure. I mean, I think, again, it’s all in the How can you make jet? How can you make everything as gender neutral as possible? Right? So how is it? How do you refer to your athletes as athletes? Right? So I also in, I started speaking, I run my family’s fast pitch softball tournament company. And my dad, I did that for a while together, and then he passed away, and I took it over and, and going through the rules, it was very, in very endearing way of he, him referring to the athletes as girls. So in the rules, it was girls, right? And so I’m reading through this and, and, you know, we can, like dissect the emotion of it being my father’s company forever. But, but I would like there there are people that don’t feel included. So how are we constantly assessing what people see when they see us? So when they come in for to fill out a form? What are the options when when one of our colleagues look at data and you look at the drop down menu, how’s it something as simple as starting demonstrating not applicable, right, that that is inclusive that that gets everybody so we always have to be mindful of who we’re not including. And the last thing we want is, is for someone to to approach us or have their first vision of us be exclusive. There’s no place for me here, right? We initially put up a wall so I might feel safe on my team, but I don’t feel safe on this event or I might feel safe in high school, but I don’t feel safe in this college or I feel safe on my team. But when I meet the strength and conditioning coach, I don’t feel safe there. Right? Are we constantly assessing and that’s something that doesn’t affect anyone you can’t? How do you argue changing to athlete like To me, there’s just no, there’s no argument when we’re moving towards inclusivity. So I think that that’s something is just looking at our verbiage, the words that we use, I think is really important. And then I think we as, as leaders, or as coaches, or as trainers, we have to be willing to learn, we can’t expect to have all the answers, there’s so much fluidity now, whether that’s fluidity and in how we’re collecting data. And the other studies that are happening, I think, the way that athletes see themselves like there’s, it used to be like, okay, like, once you decide to come out, at least my experience, right? Once you decide to come out, like this is what you’re signing up for, you’re like, you hear that you can work, you’re never gonna have kids, you’re lesbian, you’re gonna have like, 10 cats, right? Like, that’s like you’re just signing up for a package. And that’s what it is. And that’s not, that just isn’t what it is anymore, right. And so I think we have to allow, we have to create systems, whether they’re terms of collecting data, or systems of participation, or systems of acknowledgement, right, that are that are able to be fluid, right, and that we are able to change and that we are willing to change, it isn’t going to be your and your responsibility, as the leader of the group is not going to be to have all the answers. It’s to have a willingness and a curiosity to find the answers. And I loved what, what Julia said earlier and bring us up the same thing is that these athletes, they want to give their opinion, right? They want to feel safe, like we are we’re learning so much from as much from them, if not more than than they are from us, because that’s our human experience. Right? That’s what that’s what they’re going through. And at the same time to know, it is not benign, non binary is athlete responsibility to educate me, right? Can’t make them tokens, we can’t put that on them, to educate us, it’s our responsibility to go through that process together, they’re not going to feel it’s exhausting. They’ll always be the one right and again, they’re at a model that so how do we how do we take the time to get to know our athletes and, and what they need and always continue to grow, always be willing to tweak that form, or that drop down menu to fit whatever new dynamics we’ve learned about and brought into place. And I would just encourage people to not be afraid of it, right? Just because you don’t understand ForcePlates doesn’t mean that’s not a data point you want, right? Like we want more data, the more data we can get, the better we can understand people, right and the more inclusive that data has to be to be able to have a better understanding. So I think our our curiosity and kind of willingness to not know everything and be awkward, I think is is key in moving an organization a team a culture forward.

Julia Eyre 32:46
Am I Can I jump in on this, because I’m obsessed with that with what ash just said. Like, I love this concept that she was discussing about offering the option. And that’s our job. So again, I’m coming from the role of the sport scientist who works in multi disciplinary teams and multiple different levels and offering this option is really important, while at the same time recognizing that we’re not owed any information. So like, I don’t need to know if I have a transgender athlete, I don’t need to know what surgeries they’ve had. I don’t need to know any of their business. I don’t need to know, you know, their sexual orientation. These things aren’t my business. There’s definitely lines and boundaries. If I have a non binary athlete, I don’t need to know also their sexual orientation or, you know, how in what body were you born or are you going to transition, but that’s not my business. So I keep myself out of that definitely and stick to the information that one they want to give me, too. I’m a sports psychologist. So it helps a lot that I have that confidentiality, but also anything that’s then medically or health related that we need to have to keep that very confidential as well. And not sharing that in any way with teammates with staff members when it’s not allowed. And knowing again, I get a lot I get this question a lot with coaches, when we start talking about menstruation especially with young girls like pre pubescent and puberty girls like isn’t that creepy? If I asked like there’s a way to ask that that says this is a data point so that I can help keep you healthy and keep performing and then otherwise I’m staying out of it because it’s not my business. And there’s such a thing as protecting data and that’s very very important but at the same time offering the option just like Ash said and showing that we’re open to if you want to give this information we are here for it and we’re here for you and if not then not and I’m not going to push the issue I just wanted to throw that in there thank you ash

Emma Ostermann 34:33
I love each of those and it actually sparked something in me you know I have that coaching background as well and one of the things you know especially starting out as a younger coach was Alright girls bring it in or and then as you as you go through your coaching progression is the same thing I started using Alright ladies, bring it in. And now as we you know we dive into this further as she spoke on it, his words matter and when it comes to to that setting, you know when you’re when you’re trying to address a group, especially in a sport study. How do you how do you navigate those, you know those words that you should be using? And selfishly, I’m going to put myself out there as someone who did say, like 80s, come on, is that is that appropriate to use? Or should we shy away from it? Or is, is there another term that we can bring to the table to start using?

Brina Derksen-Bergen 35:21
You just call them team? Let’s go team. Easy. So that everyone

Ash Beckham 35:29
Yeah, and it’s, I think it’s so. Alright. Yeah, everybody, like I got, and I truly believe that, at the coaches that I had, it was a term of endearment and respect, right? Like it was, it was never, it was never meant in the other way. Now, I will say, as somebody that was on a team, there was a, over the years a very successful basketball team, I was a terrible basketball player I read rode the bench the entire time, but but we were the ladycats. And I had like a visceral reaction to that there was a second class status to me, even though our men’s team could barely win a game. And we were perennially state contenders. There was a second class status to me as an athlete, now my sister, who is cisgender, and straight, it never been her, right. Like I don’t. So I don’t know, like where that falls with it. But but it’s, it’s rarely about intent. And I think that there’s ways to be used Terms of Endearment with your team that are gendered, right? That you can create these dynamics, because by gender and something, you are, by definition, creating a non inclusive culture, right? Because even if it’s even if everybody in your team is sis hetero, and straight, and you know, binary, what about their sister? What about their cousin? What are about what about their sibling who isn’t yet hasn’t yet made created a gender identity for themselves, but they want to play in the program, right? It’s so beyond just the the walls of that locker room of what we’re trying to create. In those inclusion spaces. You never know who you’re not including. And I think there’s this space, this this time frame that we’re in, it’s almost like it happens with the different programs in different cultural contexts, whatever, where this flip is starting to happen. I think you’re starting to have queer coaches, you’re starting to have younger coaches, you’re starting to have female coaches, right? You’re it’s just the dynamic is changing on the local level of who these impactful leaders are. And it is our responsibility to create inclusive environments to the best of our ability. And so So how are we constantly assessing? Who wouldn’t feel including the space? How do we talk to our athletes about Who are we excluding? Right? Like, like, they’re gonna have a better lens of what the experience is within their community, right? Like, what what are we doing? How can we be better, it’s this constant idea of improvement. And as a leader, again, like, of course, we always want the performance trajectory to go like that. But if you if you narrow in on creating inclusive cultures and things like that, it actually goes up and down, up and down, up and down, you know, the general trajectory is up, but there are going to be missed that you’re going to make a mistake, you’re going to say, girls, ladies, whatever. And all you have to do is do it better tomorrow, right? If you have somebody that uses, they their pronouns, like you’re gonna screw it up, that like doesn’t work brain, I can’t imagine doing a second language, like, it just doesn’t like the conjunction of the verbs, like, but just keep doing it. You just go back, just like you expect your athletes to they’ve you go back the next day, and you try it again. And you try it again, and you try it again until it feel less awkward. And I think athletes watching you struggle yet persevere is the greatest modeling we can possibly do around these topics. Right?

Emma Ostermann 39:09
I love it. And I think, you know, you just touched on it, you’re gonna make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. And it’s, it’s that learning opportunity and the conversation, keep moving forward. And each of those responses were wonderful. And I want to do keep moving this conversation forward. And Brina, I’m going to turn to you for this next question on what are some other blind spots for human performance professionals? Who wants to build an inclusive environment for all gender and identities?

Brina Derksen-Bergen 39:33
Yeah, so I think kind of blends from what Ash was saying there. So we’ve touched on the language piece already, but I wanted to push it and say that it doesn’t just go with how you address the group. It it’s really to the examples you use as well. So this is I was at a conference one time and it was a strength and conditioning conference and the presenter spoke about what to do when you had a non motivated participant in your group. And they performed the voice of that student. And it was like a weak, young girl’s voice. So that kind of thing is also an example of not using inclusive language, you’re already boxing, and associating gender with negative things. So I think even your examples that you use, it goes beyond just how you address people, and how you dress bigger. So some other blind spots, maybe not so much of a blind spot, but changers is a huge piece. And, and you know, before I dive in, I think sometimes in order for these kind of changes to happen, you have to have the support of your organization’s you can’t just be working in isolation. And some of these changes are structural, that will have to require allies at the top level of wherever you’re at. And it doesn’t mean you know, change rooms are are interesting places for a lot of people and regardless of your gender identity can range from slightly nervous being in changes to full on terrified for that experience. Excuse me. Okay, okay. Um, and it doesn’t mean having that one extra change room for someone who identifies as non binary, right? That’s exclusive as well. So how can you change your actually switch around your building to having single stall change rooms with sinks, toilets, all of those things? There, I think clothing is also a big one. So if you are in an organization where there’s a uniform, or whether there are where there is a dress code, it’s really important that you don’t just have a one size fits all. Clothing option, you need variety, you need to offer choice, which is kind of what Leo was saying about. You know, individual first asking that person for, you know, never forcing anyone to tell you, or to identify to you, just making sure that athletes have a range of choice. And for women in particular, operating in a gender neutral polyester uniform is not the most comfortable place to be and can significantly impact performance, even white clothes, for the fear of inserting on them, right? Those kinds of things. Visual symbols of allyship, and athletic spaces, even though it is just a symbol, right, it helps, it’s important. And then I think I am including wellness checks and not forgetting the whole person. So in the teams that I coach, we have a choice of athlete journals to fill out one tracks ministration one is more general. And it’s not something that necessarily needs to be shared with the leader at all. But it’s to empower and to give opportunity for those students to talk about their sleep, talk about their health, talk about their overall wellness. And it communicates to them that you care about that you care about who they are, and you care about their health as a person. And it can be an opportunity to open open windows for conversation. Yeah, and I think also like, lowering barriers to participation doesn’t mean sacrificing excellence. Right? It’s, it’s not they’re not mutually exclusive.

Emma Ostermann 43:34
Am I can I add to this really quick, of course, really feel free to reach out.

Julia Eyre 43:39
I love it. I would also like to tack on just hire more queer people. Like I can’t tell you what a difference it makes to have other queer people around me. Especially, I would love to be in an organization with ash that would rock my world, I would feel so safe and like, that would feel like a hug. That would be incredible. But I can’t tell you the difference it makes to see visibly openly queer people in the spaces that you frequent. I know I feel super safe. For example, somebody who lived through conversion therapy going to church where I know the pastor’s queer, that makes a huge difference for me, because suddenly, like, I know, I won’t be attacked. I know that there’s somebody who cares for me, I know. But I know that there’s somebody who values similar interests, to me similar values to me has had similar experiences to me. And now I can open up to that person. I feel somehow attached to that person just because we have this one. Similarity or this one thing in common. And that’s a big deal. And we can’t I can’t stress that enough, like in my club. Although my gaydar is pretty good, I have to say I know about 80% of the kids, they’ve come out to me personally, even if I’m not out to anybody else, because I’m not queer person in their life. And I get to be, yes, I’m a psychologist, but I also get to be present and I start conversations because a lot of them started out asking me, Are you a girl or a boy? And so that starts the conversation automatically because now I have to identify myself as being masculine but being a woman I present masculine but I’m I’m was born in a woman’s body and identify as a female. Okay, cool. Now we started the conversation and eventually a lot of the ones who I suspected it’s a gay thing, do wind up coming out to me, and then we’re able to have that conversation and I’m able to like actually guide them to the next phase of their life or through a, I think I need to come out to my coach, or I think I want to come out to my friends or my teammates situation, or I’m being bullied my teammates situation, or I need to come out to my parents situation or even happens in pro sports. I hate to break it to you, but it still does. And so having queer people in the ranks makes a humongous difference. So please put more openly queer people in your organizations, we are really cool. And we’re funny.

Ash Beckham 45:50
I love that, can I just jump on that real quick? I think it’s super impactful. Two things one would do this that is that you. Just because you’re just because you’re creating an inclusive space, or you have one of your team meetings, it’s gonna revolve around inclusivity or gender identity doesn’t mean at the end, you’re gonna have three kids that are questioning raise their hand, right? We’re building relationship, and you’re building safe space. And and it’s a gradual process. And what we want is to continue the conversation, what we want is for those athletes to feel safe, when they feel comfortable to come back to us and say something right, and so don’t expect it to be this really easy. And fast turnaround, like you kind of have to put it out there and see where it lands, but I promise you care it and there’s something about, you are going to perform better when you feel safe. I don’t need to come up to my coach, I don’t need to say anything. But if I feel safe here, and these are conversations we’re having, and I even have the inkling that my coach gets me, I’m going to perform better. Because all the energy that I spent hiding, that I spent not being myself translates into connection and working for my personal better performance for the team better performance. So So I think it’s important. And then second, although probably debatably as impactful, but impactful nonetheless, would be allies coming out in the same way. Right that out that my sister again, every time she has somebody that starts new on her team, she brings up my wife and I just as as like a safety flag, right of like, I get it I’m here, right? May not be gay, don’t ever, you know, I’ve pictured my husband or my kids on my desk, but I’m there Right? I’ve been through it, and I get it and I you are so simply saying every relationship with somebody that we’re and I love them and respect them. And that normalcy is my normalcy. Right? So I think the impact of allies cannot be overstated, because I think a lot of times people then that are aspiring allies, it’s a lot easier to go to my sister, and asked questions about how my wife and I met my coming out story, whatever, then it is to come to me. And so I think that’s what we’re trying to do with our athletes right is, is empower the people that are queer, to be queer and empower the people that are allies to be allies, because they then the ability to create that safe space in other aspects of their community, right in their church in their classrooms, as leaders moving forward. So So I think that the ally piece and coming out as an ally is so critical. And again, you don’t do it. Because you have a queer kid on the team. You do it because it starts the conversation with everybody on the team around topics like sexuality, around topics like gender identity, right? I think that that’s why we do it is that is that modeling. And if you don’t have a friend that’s queer, like, hit me up, I’ll be your queer friend. I’ll be like your token queer friend all day long, right? Like it just you have a conversation. It’s a touch point. It’s a common point, being able to start to create that safe space.

Emma Ostermann 49:03
You guys both just hit the head on the nail. And it’s you just said, create a safe space, whether it’s in a team environment or work environment, you’re just trying to create that safety Enos and an ash I do want to continue moving this on and based on your experiences, what are the biggest challenges or setbacks you have encountered in your work on gender identity? Inclusivity

Ash Beckham 49:25
I think and I would love to hear what Brina and Julia think about this, but my experience is our greatest limiter is that people are afraid they’re gonna say the wrong thing. When we’re talking about a team environment, like you might maybe it again, I’ve been in women’s sports permanently, so maybe a slightly different space as far as being accepting and not in, you know, hypermasculine military models but from my personal experience. People buy into the team like they want to be supportive people don’t You don’t want to be exclusive right? like you’re on a team, you want to be inclusive. That’s your intent. But you’re so afraid you’re going to trip over it, or you’re going to cross some boundary around menstruation, or sexuality, or gender identity, or you’re going to put a kid on the spot that doesn’t feel like they should be. Or it’s weird to talk about sex with your athletes anyway, like any of that, right? You’re so afraid you’re going to screw it up that you say nothing. And to me, that’s worse than saying the wrong thing. Right. So So I think there’s some humility that comes from not knowing and, and that it might be awkward. But again, there are ways to say there are ways to approach it, there are ways to do it in a way that makes it feel safe. But I think you have to be willing to be uncomfortable. So I think those two things as seen, the power dynamic as a team, as as non reciprocal, I think is incredibly limiting. Because we’re again, learning as much from our athletes, if not more than they’re learning from us, right. And so kind of, like I said, before, demonstrating that curiosity, but also like, you have to be willing to make a mistake you, we’ve all run the wrong drill before, right? Like, we’ve all done it wrong. And then you don’t do that same thing. Again, you do it right. And again, you were a little bit careful, because the sensitivities that are coming from that, but but if you just dip your toe in the water, you start to have the conversations like you just do something like we can’t expect things to change if we’re not willing to change, right, and that pit in your stomach feeling that you get that’s how you know you’re doing the scary thing, right. So so I feel like we need to trust ourselves on that. So So I guess to me, the the limiter is is rarely exclusive, non accepting, non belonging environments, like that isn’t our biggest challenge. If we can get the people that are just afraid to do something, to do something, that cultural shift will be will be tremendous. So I think like anybody on this call, they’re in that boat, right? They want to do something, they just don’t know what to do. Or they started to do something. They don’t know what to do next. Right? Like, that’s where we that’s where we are. That’s our low hanging fruit. Those are the people that we’re all friends with. Right? So how do we empower empower them to make that one step to make that one change, assess, educate themselves more, make another step? Right? It’s this like, incremental? It’s not one of these right? One of the questions was like, how do you make a big impact? We’re making a lot of small impacts. Right? Like, there’s no, it’s just not a quick, quick fix thing.

Emma Ostermann 52:30
I love that. And I do want to hear from you as well, just because, like I said, in your setting, especially the school setting, what are some of the setbacks that you’ve experienced?

Brina Derksen-Bergen 52:38
Um, I think my setbacks. I’m very fortunate to be in a school with a lot of leaders. In the Soji, which is in Canada stands for sexual orientation, gender identity intersects education fields, so our school is very, very strong. And we have a lot of conversations and voices about that. So I’m really happy to be in this kind of place and environment. I would say most of my barriers come from when I go outside of our school with a team. So and it’s not, it’s, you know, all the little microaggressions. That’s more where it’s like, I was just saying, you know, take the little steps to make a big difference. Well, all the little negatives can change that as well. So for example, harassment by referees, or heckling by fans, misgendering, athletes, things like that. Those are all the little kind of barriers that, that mostly come up for me. And they often happen when going outside of school.

Julia Eyre 53:47
Can I take a shot at this from a scientific perspective, Emma, I’m, at my experience here in Europe, especially is again, coming from more science perspective, is that people are stuck doing it the way that it’s always been done. And it’s easy to do it that way. Because we know how to do it that way. And in sport, especially sports science, that tends to be the case like this has worked for a long time. So let’s just keep doing it. Whereas right now, especially, and I think sometimes this gets turned into kids are soft these days, they need so much more attention. They need to be babied, or whatever. Now we look more specifically, like, what do I need to do what I need to give this athlete to get the best out of them? The best performance, the best health? What do I need? How do I how can I support them specifically to get the best out of them. And that’s a new concept before it was like, here’s the training concept that we know works. So we’re doing that until it’s dead and it doesn’t work anymore. And then we’ll do it again. But now we actually need to be more specific and look at every single athlete and think about those two to 3%. What can I give them to get that out of them. And a lot of the times they need I mean all of the time, but a lot of times what they’re missing is respect. And again, the end The visual things that they need that make them more comfortable that make them safe, etc. So, especially here in Europe, we’re just behind the times a little bit. And we’re stuck in this, we’ve always done it this way, why do we need to change? The kids are so soft, let’s just treat them like men like we always used to, because they used to win games then and now they don’t anymore. And sprinkling a little sucks, respect and individuality in there really, really helps from a sort of sport science perspective again,

Emma Ostermann 55:27
yeah. I love that. And we are getting close on time. And I do want to pose this last question to the group. But Julie, I’m gonna have you kick it off for us. What advice would you give an individual athlete or service member who identifies other than male or female?

Julia Eyre 55:46
go to therapy. That is really like the best advice I can give to anybody on this call, who even has questions about this just as like a coach being interested in what are my athletes going through, go to therapy and talk to somebody about this, because it’s really helpful to get the nexternal perspective. And, again, we don’t want to intrude on our athletes privacy, we don’t want to force them to educate us, we want to educate ourselves. And if there’s any fear, or any feelings on our chest, or in our throat, at the moment talking about this or any doubt, then it’s time to go to therapy and work on those things so that we can come with full respect and openness to our athletes not, you know, bringing any of our stuff with us. There are resources out there. I’m sure that Ash and I and Brina could also send some in the group, I know that several questions have come up about resources about this, and we can definitely get some of those together for you guys. But especially like I said, if you’re feeling doubts about this, or nervous, I don’t know about all this gender stuff, these queries are doing the most go to therapy, because it can be extremely helpful for unpacking that. And we all have things to unpack regarding gender and sexuality. So that would be where I would start, if I’m being entirely honest.

Emma Ostermann 57:01
I love it and ash and Brianna, I do want to invite you guys to also answer this question, you know, any advice that you have, for anyone watching us moving forward? You know, we’ll go with you.

Brina Derksen-Bergen 57:19
So, as an ally, and as a coach, I would say, go talk to ashen Julia and seek them out and, and have these amazing role models and people to help you on their journey. But I think my advice would be more for ally coaches. How can you facilitate the someone who is identifies other than male and female coming and pairing them up with mentors or people that can guide them? So how can you be the facilitator and the connection there for them?

Ash Beckham 57:58
I guess and then I would just say fine today, but there are, I mean, I feel like so many times, especially when we’re talking about younger athletes, they think it’s they’re the only person who’s ever been through this. I mean, it’s like we all felt like that when we were 12 Right? Like, nobody’s ever it’s never been as hard for anybody else before right. And it maybe has never been neglected how you’re experiencing it. But it’s been close and and there are there are communities out there right so there’s just one of the I agree that we can get some resources but trans definitely calm is by Chris Mosier is amazing trans by triathlete that gives resources right as a coach, go find resources, there’s there’s a ally coaching alliance that you can go to and, and figure out what those resources are like, you’re not, don’t struggle to recreate the wheel, right? Like find people that have been on this journey. And I feel like that not only empowers you to improve where you are and constantly be more open and be more inclusive, but it also then empowers you, as an ally and as a mentor for other people in your school. Other people in your program, who again, are trying to go through this journey, like everybody wants a more inclusive team. Everybody wants a more functioning team, right. And it’s always your role as both a mentee and a mentor where you’re constantly learning. But then you’re also constantly giving giving back. I think it’s critical, but I think both for athletes, I think finding as more and more athletes come out, you know, role models that exist. And again, communities and if you go to bat, trans athlete, trans acutally, calm, there’s several different resources that are there. And again, all of us would be would be happy to offer the resources that that we have around that, especially as qualifications and rules and regulations around the USOC and IOC and trans athletes, I think as a hot button issue like that’s a great way to talk about current events with the athletes or you don’t have to have a trans athlete to have that conversation like where do they land What questions do they have right how do you frame it? conversations you have 100 Not around a specific athlete, but around concepts in sports that we all love. And I mean, when I was a kid, I could not stand reading. But give me the sports section, I would read the entire thing. Right. So so how do we have our athletes engage in current event issues that are relative and relevant in sport, right? How do we, how do we enter it that way? That’s such an objective way to begin the conversation.

Emma Ostermann 1:00:26
I love that and Brina ash Julia, thank you so much for for joining us today, I can definitely say that I learned a great deal. And I’m excited to continue to learn and like he said, the resources that you can provide, we will provide those to anyone that is interested as well, we will post those, I’m sure, either on our website and the YouTube video recording as well. But once again, thank you so much for joining our roundtable. This afternoon, we do invite you to connect with us on social media. From there, we want your feedback. I did mention this at the very beginning. But please take the three minutes to tell us what you thought of today’s roundtable and any future considerations of topics that you’d like to hear about. For every survey that is completed, we will donate a fusion sport will donate $5 to Girls Who Code which is a global nonprofit working to close the gender gap in technology. And once again, our upcoming events we have the Human Performance Summit, February 10 through the 11th of 2022. In Melbourne, Australia, if you use the Vanguard promo code, you can get 25% off an in person or virtual event registration, and then for future roundtables. We will be taking a break in December for the holidays. But coming back in January, we will have our round table and body image and performance. And then in February trust data and technology. Once again, we would like to extend our biggest thank you to each of our panelists for joining us today and we hope everybody has a safe and happy holidays and we will see you guys next time. Thanks everyone. Bye


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