Inclusion of Transgender Individuals in German Football


Football is a sport that is played and enjoyed around the world. As such, it’s only natural that all people should be welcomed to participate, regardless of gender identity. However, certain sports outside of football have implemented rules restricting, or even banning, participation for transgender women in women’s teams, placing a spotlight on football’s global governing body, Fifa, to consider its options.

The German Football Association (DFB) is leading the way in transgender inclusion. Thomas Hitzlsperger, DFB diversity ambassador and former Premier League player, stated that other footballing nations—including England, Scotland, and Wales—have been in contact to learn more about the German policy. Currently, the policy is only in effect at amateur level, but Fifa is taking guidance from legal, scientific, and human rights experts in a review of gender eligibility regulations.

In Germany, transgender women are not required to lower their testosterone levels to play in women’s teams, which sets them in difference to some other sports, such as athletics. In English football, to play in the over-18’s women’s team, transgender women will have to demonstrate that their blood testosterone levels are within the natal female range, as well as reconfirming it on an annual basis. Such regulations ensure fairness and safety of female athletes.

For transgender players like Charlotte Jerke, who is based in Berlin, the policy has granted her a sense of relief, comfort, and inclusion. Charlotte had once played on a men’s team, but after taking hormone replacements, she no longer felt comfortable or welcomed. The DFB policy has enabled her to once again enjoy the sport she loves.

However, not everyone supports the policy. Women’s rights campaigners in Germany argue that inclusion of even one transgender woman is dangerous for female sport and will discourage ‘women working hard to be athletes’. Further, there are safety concerns that should be taken into consideration. Hitzlperger notes that there have been no safety issues raised so far.

The consensus on transgender inclusion in football remains burdened with difficult questions, but progress is being made. The German Football Association is a beacon of hope in the debate, which other countries are beginning to follow. It will be interesting to see Fifa’s decision on the matter, and if eventually, all nations can reach an agreement on what is best for all football players, regardless of gender identity.