For transgender and non-binary people, sports and especially the swimming pool can be a very hostile place, of which many people tend to avoid. However, the Transgender And Gender non-conforming Swimming Group is taking the initiative to create a space specifically to make swimming and aquatics in general a more accessible place for transgender and non-binary people to join.
A documentary about TAGS came out in 2017 that followed the members of the group and their experiences, specifically in regard to the nature of swimming of having one’s body generally more visible and exposed than in other sports. As one of the members described the discussion and scrutiny of trans peoples’ bodies can quickly devolve into oppressive language.
“They say that we’re unnatural, that we’re perverted, that we’re not genuine people.”
TAGS mission is to “provide a friendly and safe space for transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people to swim.” This has included everything from swim lessons, water yoga and even just open pool time. They have sessions throughout London, specifically in Swiss Cottage, Lewisham and West Midlands.
Despite the hostility of sports and the barriers that things like public and binary changing rooms that discourage trans and non-binary people from participating. Groups like TAGS play an important role in creating spaces that are welcoming to trans and non-binary people to participate in exercise and sports, which in turn can have a positive impact on mental, physical and social health. As the discussion and debates regarding trans athletes in sports, bathroom bills and other topics that quickly become heated, uncivilized and unproductive. LGBTQI sports organizations and passionate leaders are taking the initiative to create trans and non-binary specific and inclusive spaces and build these opportunities to make a positive impact on the community.
TAGS is part of a grassroots movement that is seeing more trans and non-binary specific sports and exercise groups and teams. Including West Hollywood’s Lanemate X, Tel Aviv LGBTQI Sport Club’s TransBall and Boston Pride Hockey’s Trans Team. All of whom focus on participation and community in building spaces that are inclusive and specifically designed for the needs and expectations of the transgender and non-binary communities. Through participation, we can create representation and education. For more information about TAGS, visit http://tagswim.simplesite.com/441592109
By Dirk Smith