Trans Can Sport is a new project which will deliver free fitness sessions to trans people in Brighton & Hove during 2016. The project will support people who feel their transgender identity creates barriers for them to access fitness by providing series of group sessions for participants at all levels of experience and fitness.
Recent local research has found high levels of non participation in physical activity amongst the trans community. The Brighton & Hove Trans Needs Assessment has found that trans people are less likely to report good physical health. The same research found that 83% percent do not access gyms or participate in organised sport.
The reasons citied included feeling self-conscious, uncomfortable and unsafe, not being able to access a suitable changing area due to gender, having issues with clothing. Other reasons included finding the environment too unfriendly. Crucially many said they were not able to financially afford getting involved. Trans people face extra pressure to [lose] weight for commencement of HRT and for surgery.
Being told to simply exercise more is unhelpful given the barriers faced by transgender people. The Trans Needs Assessment also found that anxiety is experienced by nearly 80% of trans people. Exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety and boost self esteem, which is also a problem area for trans people.
Project co-ordinator, Rory Smith said:
“I used to feel unable to exercise because of real discomfort and fear surrounding use of the changing rooms and feeling intimidated by other gym users. I’m excited about this project as I know that in the 12 months I’ve been getting fit, my confidence, self esteem and wellbeing has improved markedly. I want to others to have this opportunity too”.
Marquita Smith, personal trainer, who will be leading many of the sessions, said:
“I’ve been working with trans people in one-on-one and group sessions for some time now, supporting with a range of health and fitness goals. I’m excited to be able to use my experience and techniques to support Trans Can Sport. This will be an excellent opportunity for individuals, who have felt intimidated or uncomfortable, to ask for support in mainstream fitness establishments and I’m proud to be a part of it”.
The project launches this month ( January) with taster sessions before the main project commences in February. All the coaches [are] trans aware and have experience working with trans clients. Sessions are open to anyone who identifies as trans or feels [their] gender identity prevents them from getting fit.
Places need to be booked in advance, however, Trans Can Sport will provide the sessions for free.