Each week we bring you a good news story from across the South West as part of our wedNEWSday articles.
Kate Jones, a player from Chippenham has a story to tell…
‘I was never a team player; I preferred the individual pursuits of running and cycling. I always felt as though I never fitted in, a round peg in a square hole. Solo endurance sports were my personal escapism. A way to block the negative thoughts associated with being ‘someone like me’.
Being transgender isn’t an easy path to tread but for me it was the right one. Post transition I set myself a number of goals, one was to break the mould and participate in a team sport coupled with the idea of making some new friends.
So after a chance discussion I discovered Rock Up Netball in Chippenham. They run a yearly quad session back to netball course. This seemed ideal but the thought of attending did fill me with a certain amount of trepidation.
For the first session I roped in a friend for moral support. Wow! It was such great fun!!! Having never played netball before I was totally clueless but I was eager to learn. Post course we formed a team and Victorious Secrets were born and they even made me captain!
The women at Rock Up have been very warm and accepting, and it is run by the legend that is Miriam Sawyer. She is a great coach and a wonderful human being.
Earlier this year I inquired about league netball and was hastily informed I would not be eligible to play because of my ‘gender status’.
I’m empathetic to the concerns natal born women have when it comes to trans participation in sport but conversely being born in a male shell does not always give you an advantage. There are women I play with who are faster, stronger, fitter and far more skilful than me. This contentious subject will continue to make headlines but it is something we need to discuss with scientific facts and a level head.
Earlier this year I decided to approach England Netball for clarification; I am lead to believe I am the first trans woman to do this. After several months and many emails later I received a confirmation of compliance letter. Marc Scott at EN has been very helpful and has even asked for my input in updating current policy on trans inclusion.
So what next for me?
I freely admit I have fallen in love with netball, it is such good fun! I particularly enjoy the camaraderie as well as the positive effects on ones mental and physically wellbeing. I’ve made the GD position my own. I thoroughly love the buzz of a timely interception and shot blocking. Victorious Secrets are currently top of our Rock Up league with one match to play.
Am I good enough to get a game for a team in a local league? Probably not at the moment but I will be and the doors to my participation are thankfully well and truly open.
I would like to thank my coach Miriam Sawyer, Marc Scott at England Netball, my Victorious Secrets team mates (you know who you are!), Amy Plumb for being my Rock Up wing woman. Finally I would like to thank the friendly and accepting women of Rock Up Netball Chippenham.’
Thank you for sharing your story Kate, looking forward to seeing you get back on the netball court.
If you have a good news story that you would like to share please send your story and a picture to Laura Woodruff (firstname.lastname@example.org)