USA Climbing Sets Forth Best Practices for Gender Inclusion

2022 USAC Youth National Championships Speed Qualifiers
As part of its Strategic Plan, USA Climbing has published its “Best Practices for Gender Inclusion,” a document which includes suggestions that can be applied beyond USAC events. (Photo of the 2022 USAC Youth National Championships by Bree Robles @breesframes, courtesy of USA Climbing)

USA Climbing (USAC), the national governing body for competition climbing in the United States, recently distributed a set of “best practices in regard to gender inclusion within our sport and community,” said USAC President & CEO Marc Norman in a newsletter last week. Developed by the USAC Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, the document contains general principles regarding gender inclusion as well as concrete ways to improve gender inclusion at USAC events and climbing communities across the country.

“As a Core Value and as outlined in our 2019-24 Strategic Plan, USA Climbing is committed to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion as critical to our success as an organization. We will continuously champion these principles throughout the climbing community and will not tolerate discrimination in any form,” said Norman.

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The 9-page “Best Practices for Gender Inclusion” document is divided into several sections: general recommended practices for gender inclusion; specific recommendations for USAC staff event organizers, regional coordinators, volunteers and coaches; gender terminology; FAQs pertaining to trans and non-binary athletes; and links to related resources, toolkits and policies around the sports world.

Stated first and foremost in the document is that “transgender and non-binary athletes should have equal opportunity to participate in sport and to be able to strive for excellence.” Throughout the document, some of the steps taken toward that goal include: pointing out that “trans women are women,” and trans men are men; reminding regional coordinators and volunteers “a climber’s gender identity may not match their gender expression or their USAC gender category;” suggesting USAC staff event organizers “use hotels, restaurants and suppliers that are LGBTQ and/or BIPOC owned;” encouraging everyone to “understand and challenge your own attitudes and beliefs around trans and non-binary athletes competing;” and reiterating “the IOC has stated that no athlete should be precluded from competing on the ground of an unverified, alleged or perceived unfair competitive advantage…”

“We thank the [USAC DEI] Committee for their efforts both on this topic but also in encouraging USA Climbing to review competition participation for non-U.S. residents, transgender and non-binary participants in our sport. This effort is now underway. As we move forward, I highly encourage every USA Climbing athlete, official and community member to review this document…and take into consideration how these best practices can be utilized to kindly welcome more individuals into this amazing sport,” Norman concluded.

The full “Best Practices for Gender Inclusion” document can be accessed here.

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