Highland Games considering including 'non-binary' competitors

Simon Johnson
The caber toss at the Highland Games - Chris Watt Photography

The Highland Games are considering how to include competitors with a 'non-binary' gender following demands that traditional men-only events should not receive public funding.

Ian Grieve, secretary of the Scottish Highland Games Association (SHGA), told the Daily Telegraph the admission of participants who do not consider themselves men or women was "under active discussion."

He said this and the inclusion of transgender competitors have been added to the agenda "for further discussion" at the organisation's meeting next month.

The development emerged after he emailed the SHGA's committee members about longstanding calls to encourage more women to compete in events.

He said that "it might not stop there" and highlighted a link to new guidance issued by Scottish Athletics to race organisers "who want to ensure they are inclusive of non-binary participants."

The athletics governing body north of the Border has said "we fully support and encourage" including a third gender category for races.

The disclosure that the SHGA may follow suit came after Rhoda Grant, a Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands, argued that the games should promote gender equality if they want to continue receiving Scottish Government funding.

Mr Grieve said next month's meeting would follow discussions with Scottish Athletics, government agency EventScotland and Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, who was named chieftain of Cupar Highland Games last year.

He said that after the talks the SHGA "may have a clearer understanding of how we may take this forward." He added: "The SHGA remains committed to equality in competition."

But the Scottish Trans Alliance admitted it was "not aware of any trans individuals or groups who have been applying pressure on the Highland Games to become non-binary inclusive."

James Morton, the organisation's manager, said he would welcome the SHGA considering the inclusion of non-binary people but said "this should not needlessly delay including women."

Meanwhile, it emerged that prisons in England could stop transgender inmates servings their sentences in women's jails, with the Ministry of Justice announcing plans to revise the current policy.