Sports Editor

Sports Editor Claire Thomson interviews trampoline club captain Hollie Fullerton about how they and the trampoline club have welcomed and encouraged LGBTQ+ and unisex representation in sport.

For several years, transgender and non-binary athletes have been at the heart of sporting debates and become political lightning rods in a sex-segregated sporting world. Amid all this controversy and unrest, Glasgow University Sports Association’s (GUSA) first non-binary club captain, Hollie Fullerton, alongside Glasgow University Trampoline Club (GUTC) have created an accepting and encouraging space for people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations and abilities. Hollie has not been afraid to push the boundaries of the restrictive, gendered nature of sport in a fight for inclusion, and to ensure that sport is available and accessible to everyone. They want to prove that the sporting world is not a scary place and give a voice to underrepresented and marginalised groups in sport.

"They want to prove that the sporting world is not a scary place and give a voice to underrepresented and marginalised groups in sport."

Coming out as non-binary almost two years ago, Hollie was quick in acknowledging that everyone has been “very lovely, accepting and welcoming” and the support that they have received from friends, family and GUTC has been unmatched. However, it's the positive and inspiring outlook that Hollie has on sport, accessibility and involvement that makes them a role model for not only the non-binary and LGBTQ+ community but for anyone wanting to participate in sport at any level. Hollie highlighted the fact that sport’s innately gendered background is a massive barrier to trans people joining sport and whether they're trans and/or non-binary, it is often very preventative a lot of the time. However, they are determined to find solutions to overcome this issue and get more people, generally, taking part in sport: “It’s mainly just finding gender neutral options and encouraging recreational sport. Recreational sport does not need to be gendered. There's no need. It's for fun. You know, finding team sports where they can get involved as well as individual sports...At recreational level and university level, we can encourage that mix more.” This year at Taxis Cup, for GUTC, and Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonians’ trampoline clubs, everyone will be competing against each other regardless of sex or gender. According to Hollie: “They compete the same routine requirements, they have the same exact judging and scoring, there's no reason why they couldn't compete against each other.” On top of this massive step forward in the sport, after “a long time coming,” BUCS has introduced a gender-neutral kit option, so that everyone can compete in whatever kit they're comfortable in. Naturally, there is the hope that Scottish Student Trampoline (SST) will adopt the same principles very soon. 

"Recreational sport does not need to be gendered. There's no need. It's for fun."

The achievements and success of trans and non-binary athletes are often overlooked in the media by the debate over whether or not they should be competing instead of celebrating that they are. Hollie noted the fact that role models and representation of trans sports are often hard to find unless you're actively seeking it. For Hollie, there is the goal to spread the word that sport doesn't have to be an opinionated and scary place. They want to help make that change in the sporting world and create a more welcoming and accepting environment for people of all genders and sexualities.

“I think just showing them that not only are you allowed to join these sports, you can compete, you can thrive in them...It's not a barrier anymore, as much as it used to be. The clubs are like families, if you've managed them right, if people put in what they're getting out of it, they can be the most accepting places. And for me, it's all my best friends in a big room together. So it's just promoting further that, like, ‘hello’, you're allowed to join, and it's actually good as well. I think a lot of people are scared about what they need to wear, about getting split into groups for things, and I think it's just about promoting that we're very welcoming, accepting, that's not going to happen, no one's gonna make you do anything you don't want to. Our competitions are entirely optional, so do not ever assume that you'll be competing, it's just if you want to. So yeah, I think just getting the word out really and saying, ‘Please come along. It's okay.’ And, as well, showing options for unisex sport. Obviously, we are very keen, but also like, I have to note things like Farflung, like the Ultimate team, which is mixed. There's so many options now to join. But I think a lot of the time trans people are just very scared to join because they're worried as sport’s got a bad rep. Let's face it, it does. And I think we need to be honest about that and start really targeting people who might be scared to join and looking at how we can help resolve those anxieties that he might feel around sport in the community generally.”

Alongside Hollie and their outstanding efforts, GUTC has also played an incredibly important role in encouraging participation in the club. With almost 50 members and continually growing, Hollie commented on the “accepting” and “welcoming” nature of the club as well as the “vibe” that they present, particularly after having redesigned their banner this year to incorporate rainbows. With big pushes for LGBT History Month and Rainbow Laces, GUTC is not just telling people that they can join, they actively want people to join and that's what has made the difference to the atmosphere of the club compared to others. But, Hollie is not just sending the message out for GUTC: “ I think it's just nice to say, ‘Come and join our community that we've got, but not just us.’ I would love that to be more of a wider join a sport, any sport and feel comfortable.” There's a world of sporting opportunities out there and there's definitely something for everyone.

The most potent message behind Hollie’s whole journey through coming out and participating in sport is to get involved no matter what and that set the undertone for the whole interview. Their advice and passion about sport is honestly like nothing else, and they want to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities to enjoy themselves and see sport in its truest form rather than what it is often perceived to be. There's a solution to everything, which Hollie emphasised in their words of encouragement and reassurance: “Do ask, ask the questions. If you're scared about something, ask because there are answers and there are workarounds for everything, just in the same way, there's workarounds for people with different abilities. If you're not comfortable doing this, if you're not comfortable doing that, fine. It's meant to be fun. Sport’s meant to be this fun extra thing you do when you're at uni. There's pro sport, which is this serious life commitment, but you're at uni to get a degree. So this is just meant to be this fun extra thing you get to do, and it shouldn't be scary. It should just be a way to meet people, enjoy yourself and get fit. Every GUSA club has a Welfare Officer, who has to be trained..., and they have things in place to help support you and signpost if there's any problems that come up. But it's 2022. Like, exercise, bro. There's so many options, there's definitely a club for you. You know, there's always going to be something, even if it's like hillwalking, you know, you could be any kind of person and there will be a way for you to join them with that. So yeah, I think, just do it. Ask away – any questions.  And if it's too scary, shoot me an email. I'll email them instead.”

"The most potent message behind Hollie’s whole journey through coming out and participating in sport is to get involved no matter what..."

There's no doubt that Hollie and the whole of GUTC have made a massive positive impact on the trampoline community as well as sport at the University of Glasgow through their constant work and support behind the scenes to ensure that everyone is welcomed with open arms. Hollie’s work in representing non-binary and trans sport doesn’t just end at the GUTC, as they plan to run for Chair of SST next year and continue encouraging everyone and anyone to get involved in sport. Their commitment and dedication to providing an accessible sporting outlet in a normally tough environment should be applauded. 2021-22 has truly been an amazing year for Glasgow University Trampoline Club, with the hard work and positive mindsets of club captain, Hollie Fullerton and their outstanding committee being an inspiration to all. On behalf of The Glasgow Guardian, we wish the club all the best for the future!

To listen to the full interview, find The Glasgow Guardian on Spotify.

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