Transsexuals in shooting and the IOC ban

We have received another great guest contribution, this time from supporter Katherine Griffiths. If you would like to write an article or contribute to a page on our website, please send us an e-mail to, thank you Katherine for your contribution.

I’ll begin this article by introducing myself. I am a 42 year old trans woman (male to female transsexual) living in North Kent. I am about 6 months into my treatment. Gender Dysphoria, to give the condition its proper name, is a recognised medical condition that affects about 1% of the population. I am a Legal Secretary / trainee Paralegal and work for a small, new legal service firm in Staines in Middlesex. My main hobbies are 1940’s Living History (my character is a codebreaker from Bletchley Park) and air pistol shooting.

I first learnt to shoot during my service in the British Army and found I enjoyed shooting any sort of firearm but really loved shooting pistols and during my service I fell in love with the Browning Hi Power which was my primary side arm I carried whilst carrying out my wartime role of medic (medics are allowed to carry small arms for protection). After I finally left the Army in 1991 (I actually left in October 1990 but was recalled to the colours to serve in Operation Granby (the British part of Operation Desert Storm). It wasn’t until 2001 before I took up airgun shooting and bought a Webley Nemesis pistol and shortly after that a Walther Lever Action ‘Winchester 1892’ CO2 rifle. I had to give up the sport when I got very heavily involved in motorsport as a senior official and also a team co owner. When I moved to my current flat I surrendered my airguns to the police as I had no where to shoot. The only guns I had were my blank firing western guns which I used for Western Living History.

I transitioned in 2009 after my blood pressure was dangerously high due to the fact I had to hide my true self (in fact since I have been shooting my blood pressure has fallen to normal levels). It was after watching the shooting during London 2012 that I decided to take up the sport of air gunning again. I quickly found a local and friendly club, South East Airgun Club near Paddock Wood. I bought a Walther CP88 CO2 pistol and started shooting on Sunday mornings and really enjoyed it. The club didn’t mind my ‘trans’ status and at the beginning of this year I entered the clubs Field Target Pistol league. The first round was on a freezing march day and I used a Crossman 1377 American Classic pump pistol. The pistol was not suited to the competition and I was worn out at the end of the 2 rounds from the pumping and was last in both rounds. The next few rounds I used a Beeman 2004E single stroke pneumatic pistol and I played around with open sights before settling on a red dot sight. I was firmly rooted at the bottom of the league. I was determined to improve and my aim was a podium by the end of the season. My big breakthrough came in the summer when I bought a Brocock GP single shot pre charged pneumatic pistol. My scores improved and I eventually won two rounds and came 5th overall in the final results of the league.

Even before I started in the league I started to look at various competitions in the area and saw that many were governed by NSRA, so I contacted them and the international governing body, the ISSF, for the policy on transsexuals competing. The NSRA said they used the ISSF policy and the ISSF policy said they had to use the IOC rules. I looked at the IOC rules and was horrified to see that the IOC lumped all sports in one basket in regards to transsexuals and the rules stated that transsexuals were not allowed to compete until two years after genital surgery to reduce any gender advantage.

I had to ask myself what was the gender advantage in shooting? The sport is not based on strength or stamina but rather on accuracy and concentration. In fact up until the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, shooting was a mixed sport where men and women shot against each other for the same medals. I started to write to the then IOC President Jacques Rogge. I never received any reply to my letter. I have also written to the current IOC President Thomas Bach and again no reply.

Being a Legal Secretary I decided to look at the law to see if there is any legal reason for the ban. In the UK the main anti discrimination legislation (because the ban to trans athletes is
discrimination) is the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act in Section 7 gives Protected Characteristics to those proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex.’ Section 195 of the Act only allows discrimination according to gender in a GENDER-AFFECTED activity. Subsection 2 allows discrimination relating to gender reassignment for a transsexual competitor in a gender-affected activity only if it is necessary to secure fair competition and competitors safety Subsection 3 defines gender-affected activity as ‘A gender-affected activity is a sport, game or other activity of a competitive nature in circumstances in which physical strength, stamina or physique of average persons of one sex would put them at a disadvantage compared to average persons of the other sex as competitors in events involving the activity.’

Under the Gender Recognition Act 2004 Section 19 basically reads the same as the Equality Act as far as trans competitors and gender-affected sports are concerned with minor wording changes but the meanings are the same.

Let’s now look at the IOC view and rules on this issue and remember that shooting was a mixed sport in the Olympics. On 28th October 2003 an ad-hoc committee was convened by the IOC Medical Commission in Stockholm to discuss and issue recommendations on the participation on transsexual competitors. The committee basically decided that transsexuals would be banned from competing until at least 2 years after all surgical anatomical changes have been completed, legal recognition of the assigned gender has been recognised by the appropriate official authorities and verifiable hormone therapy has been administered for a sufficient length of time to minimise gender-related advantages. As you can see it is a very vague rule and this seems to have been decided, written and published in just one day. This is a very complicated subject. I also have to ask were any of the committee members specialists in Gender Dysphoria? These rules give both international and national governing bodies the ok to discriminate against trans competitors. This is not right. Trans people get enough discrimination in their every day lives without this being extended to sport and this discrimination is sanctioned by the most powerful governing body in all of sports, the International Olympic Committee. Why won’t the President of the IOC respond or get one of his staff to respond to my letters? Is he afraid of admitting that his organisation sanctions discrimination against a minority group? Or does he think I’ll go away and stop writing.

Why have the IOC and the International and National Governing Bodies of shooting put in place this blanket ban? More importantly what sports are considered ‘gender-affected’? I can find no list of sports that are considered ‘gender-affected’. Why? Surely there should be some sort of guidance to the Governing Bodies of sport.

I have emailed the Department of Media, Culture and Sport (I emailed them on 13th January) and UK Sport (20th January) for a list of sports that are considered ‘Gender Affected’ and so far no reply. I have also emailed the NSRA again on the same day as I emailed the Department of Media, Culture and Sport and once again no replay. It looks like that the rights transsexuals are being ignored as far as shooting is concerned just like their rights are often ignored in society. I have also written to Lord Coe who is the currant chair of the British Olympic Association. I was allowed to take part in London 2012 as a Steward Team Leader for both the Torch Relay and the Paralympic Road Cycling. Since that wonderful experience my opinion of the IOC has gone down because of their policy.

I am starting a new Facebook page called Trans Equality in Shooting Sports to draw attention to the issue. Believe me the fight for trans equality in shooting has only just begun and this girl will never surrender.


In reply to @borocomphelp

This post is a response to a comment posted by @borocomphelp during a Twitter conversation on what shooting clubs and ranges can do to improve and promote shooting.


Firstly we are not familiar with the term “Butters”, so given the context we will assume you actually meant “nutters”. Now everyone is entitled to their own point of view, however absurd, but let us point out a few things for you, and anyone else who shares such an opinion.

Shooting is not only a legal recreational activity enjoyed by a million people in the UK alone, but shooting is also a key part of many jobs and Great Britain are internationally recognized in the shooting sports. To suggest we should not be proud of our heritage and our achievements in this area is to suggest we should have no pride if England won the World Cup. Secondly shooting is well recognized as safe and responsible sport and hobby, should those who enjoy a Sunday game of cricket be ridiculed because one night someone used a cricket bat as weapon?

Rather than make ill-informed judgements presumably based on sensationalized stories in the media or what you see in movies why not take a look at the shooting sports themselves, pop a long to a clay shooting ground; you still may not like them, but you would likely change your absurd opinion noted above.

Vote for Amber Hill!

Amber Hill, The BBC’s Young Sports Personality of the Year for 2013 has an opportunity to be the face of JD Sports, and asks that you vote for her.

This is an opportunity that could help raise awareness of the shooting sports and clay shooting in particular, encouraging new people into the sport, even into competitive shooting. Please show your support by voting for her, thank you.

Vote for Amber Hill

RACKNLOAD Firearms & Shooting Community


RACKNLOAD is an online community based around a sizable Facebook group which hosts an international membership of firearm and shooting enthusiasts covering a wide range of interests and disciplines. No one is made to feel unwelcome regardless of the discipline you favor or the amount of experience you have or lack. Whether your main interest is historic military rifles or Airsoft you will find a warm welcome.

The Group

At the time of writing the Facebook group has over 1,400 members covering a diverse range of interests and shooting disciplines. Unlike some groups which are heavily focused towards one discipline, sport or even nationality RACKNLOAD is open to anyone and anything remotely of interest to those with an passion for firearms and shooting… even posting about Call of Duty won’t get you shown to the door!

The group is a full multimedia experience with members uploading home made videos as well as photos on a frequent basis, this not only keeps the group interesting and fun it helps everyone get familiar with disciplines and subjects they are new to. A video of practical shotgun is a great way to showcase a discipline a clay pigeon shooter may never of considered before for example.

The YouTube Channel

On the YouTube Channel you will find videos show casing all types of shooting action from centre fire rifle to Airsoft.

Gun and gear reviews will make an appearance.

There will also be some politically orientated videos which will touch on firearms law, threats to shooting and pro-gun vs anti-gun interactions, such as the one bellow.

The Page

The RACKNLOAD Facebook page is most well known for the interesting or beautifully attractive (If you love guns like us) photos, such as the examples bellow.

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More Information

For those of you on Twitter you’ll be pleased to know that so is RACKNLOAD. If you tend to forget to check your YouTube account then following the Twitter feed will let you know when new videos are published. You can follow at

If you love to promote great products and groups like we do at Firearms UK you may be interested to know that Velcro patches are now available, so you can show just how much you love all things RACKNLOAD and help the group grow by adding a patch to your gun bag or other kit 🙂 The patches are sized at 9cm x 6cm and are priced at £6 including global shipping with £1 from every purchase going to Help for Heroes. Please see the group for how to order.

RACKNLOAD patch next to some empty brass

Introducing Custom Sporting Mats and Hides

It goes without saying that we at Firearms UK love firearms and shooting, so we are keen to bring to your attention any company or product we feel may be of interest to you as firearms owners and shooting sports enthusiasts. This times its the turn of Custom Sporting Mats and Hides a family run business based out of Essex, specializing in sporting goods for the shooting fraternity.

Products and Prices

The company have numerous product lines, offering something for everyone; including shooting mats, pellet pouches and gun bags. All products are made in house using top quality materials as shown by an array of stunning product photographs.

Custom Sporting Mats and HIdes 27th December Price List

Price List (27/12/13): All prices include delivery

The standard shooting mats have four sections so when folded the dirt and mud is inside away from your clothes, they measure 29″ x 68″ when out flat. Manufactured from hard-wearing 1000d Cordura fabric they are water-resistant and all seams, handles, etc are all double stitched using a very strong thread. The covers do not come off but are easy to clean with a damp cloth and have even been known to be cleaned with a jet washer!

The bean bag seats are also very popular and are made out of the same high quality materials. Two sizes are available, the HFT bean bag and the larger FT bean bag. They can be made with a pocket on the front or without, whichever is preferred. The HFT bean bag measures approx 18″ x 17″ and is £27 without pocket or £29 with pocket. The FT bean bag measures approx 20″ x 19″ and is £38 without pocket and £40 with pocket, they can also be made to customers own requirements.

A small selection of pellet pouches are available which can be made in any colour with a lanyard or belt loops. The single pouch costs £5.50, the small double pellet/mag pouch is £10 and was featured in Shooting Sports Magazine. The large pellet/mag pouch is priced at £15.

Man aiming an air rifle through a small camouflage hide

In addition to mats and pouches, they also offer hides!

Rifle bags and pistol cases were added to the product range in 2013 and are proving very popular. They are custom made to suit your own measurements and are available in a variety of designs and colours.


The standard shooting mats come with the company name and contact number embroidered on them, but a personalized embroidery service is available at an additional cost, and may be especially useful if you are purchasing as a club or to commemorate a special occasion. The mats measure 29″ x 68″ when laid out flat but can be custom made to your own size requirements.

Gun bags are priced on the requirements of the customer so they don’t have a set price, all bags are priced individually. If you require a gun bag please get in touch with Custom Sporting Mats and Hides for a quote.

Take a look at the gallery for some examples.

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Company History

The husband and wife team behind Custom Sporting Mats and Hides, being keen shooters themselves also run an airgun club and it was here where their business first began by making bean bags for their Essex shooting club. It went down so well they were soon asked if they make shooting mats. After a a lot of research in to different types of fabric and foam, they came up with the mats you see above.

They pride themselves on quality and only use high quality materials. The business has been going from 2010 and is run out of their family home in Essex. Now specializing in gun bags, they were the main supplier of leather bottle covers for Daystate, with the first one to be seen on the REDRANGER special edition rifle.

More Information

Custom Sporting Mats and Hides is run by a family of air rifle shooters, who also run their own gun club… so if their fabulous range of products isn’t enough to tempt you into getting out the credit card, perhaps knowing that you will be helping to support a family who loves the sport just as much as you do will!

More to their range… rugby tops and polo shirts can now be ordered with your name or club logo on, please get in touch for quote.

custom logos and embroidery on polo shirts and rugby tops

Based in Rayleigh, Essex you can reach them via their website contact page by e-mail or by phone on 01268 655179.

Custom Sporting Mats and Hides also have their own Facebook page please pay them a visit and invite your friends to take a look at their products.