All our research is curated and peer-reviewed giving you access to an unmatched library of information all in one place.

Men’s netball or gender-neutral netball?

In this article I examine whether justice in New Zealand is better served through the provision of gender-inclusive or gender-segregated men’s netball competitions (where netball began as a late 19th century women’s version of basketball). While the New Zealand Men’s Netball Association (henceforth called the ‘men’s association’) was initially established in 1984 under an inclusive ethos rooted in Māori community-based and fa’afafine1-based competitions, by the end of that most overtly transgender and fa’afafine players were excluded so as to boost the association’s heterosexist credentials. This process culminated in 2004 when the men’s association was replaced by the New Zealand Men’s and Mixed Netball Association (henceforth called the ‘mixed association’). While in principle medically verified post operative transgender women may now play in mixed-gender leagues, virtually none do. Furthermore, anyone who foregoes such treatment – including fa’afafine – must dress as a man in order to play. If it is the coercion that makes coercive gender segregation problematic then perhaps justice would be best served if men’s netball was a gender-neutral activity. This seems consistent with the gendered history of both netball and men’s netball in New Zealand.