I’d personally like to respond to the “response” from the IQA. I am the captain of the Smith Quidditch team, and also one of the 7 women that started this team. I have raised this team, fought with this team, loved this team, and it is my honor to serve as the captain of the Smith team. Let me first tell you a little about Smithies. We’re headstrong, driven, passionate people. We fight for what our passions are and for what is right. Our connection to the history of our school is one of the most important connections we have, the connection to the thousands of women that have gone before us including Gloria Steinem, Julia Child, Betty Friedan, Tammy Baldwin and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. Smith College is also the place where Women’s Basketball started. Think about that.
We play AS Smith College because we LOVE our school. Every other co-ed team be it community or school team gets to play as a representative of their community, and why shouldn’t Smith be able to do the same? When we step onto the field, be it in practice or for a game, we ARE Smith. We represent and hold with us the history, the power, and the pride that comes along with a being a Smithie.
I think it’s important to remind everyone that comes across this response that Smith attempted to have a dialogue with the Board when there was a first questioning of the gender rule, to which the IQA rarely responded. There’s been no attempt to talk with us about what this all means for us despite the fact that we’ve been loyal and supportive members of the IQA for the last 3 years. I am honestly confused by the notion of having a competitive advantage because over the last three years we have played against co-ed teams and we have never had a competitive advantage. We LOVE playing co-ed teams, because we love Quidditch and the fact that everyone gets to represent their schools and their communities. Who is to say that in order for us to be “equal” on the playing field we have to have men?
We’re not asking for the IQA to have single sex teams, what we’re asking for is to keep the exemption clause in for single-sex institutions.
Also, let’s talk about “minimal effort on the part of the teams to recruit players or alternate gender identities.”
Here are the problems:
1. Although there are 3 co-ed schools in our valley, the ease of being able to get men from their campuses to ours is over an hour bus ride. Also, UMass Amherst (whose team we adore, love, and consider our best friends) has their own team, meaning that if anyone from Amherst or Hampshire desired to play Quidditch it would be much easier for them to get to UMass’ campus than get to ours.
2. To recruit students at Smith College of a gender identity that is not female is to start an inappropriate and offensive campaign. We’re not lacking in people who want to play with us, and two different situations would most likely arise: a) our dedicated players would have to spend more time on the sidelines, or b) we will have a socially unacceptable recruitment campaign that targets members of our community. Thus forcing people to out themselves as not identifying as female. The single sex institution clause protects our players from being out-ed.
3. Why is it so wrong that we want to play as a representative of our school? This is our community. We want to play as our community.
So there are no all-male teams from single sex institutions who are IQA members or trying to get IQA membership. This means that this issue affects all-women’s teams. It doesn’t matter if there’s an argument that women’s teams from women’s colleges should be allowed to play because they’re constantly at a disadvantage. But guess what, my team plays differently than every other coed team out there. Because there is a biological difference between male bodied and female bodied persons. My team trains specifically to over come this. We aren’t playing a pity card, we are not weak, we are Quidditch players. We just want to be able to do this as a representation of Smith College. We’re not asking to be allowed to play as our team because we’re always at a competitive disadvantage because we’re not. We’re overcoming these things everyday. It means we play a different way than most teams, it means that we focus on different things during practice.
Do you know what it’s like to have to go to a tournament and have your player’s gender questioned? I have and have had players on my team who do not conform with the gender binary. If anyone is going to be educated and well versed on the gender spectrum, it’s going to be this team. I have brought my team to competitions and tournaments previously where I have been asked if my players were female becase “they didn’t look female.” How, may I ask, is anyone going to “prove” the gender identity of my players? On top of that you’re asking my players to out themselves, something I am not comfortable with. Instead of my players feeling safe on the field and loving Quidditch the way that they do, they have to be afraid that someone’s going to ask them what their gender identity is. I refuse to put my players in a situation where they could be subjected to the ignorance of the gender spectrum.
A few closing comments, I started this team because I love Quidditch and community it supports. This team has taught me so much, and given so much to the sport and to take it away from them is unfair. We are proud of who we are. We’re not looking to get an exemption because we are women. We’re asking for the IQA to put back in their clause that allows single sex institutions to field teams representative of their schools and communities. We just want to be able to play as Smith. We’re not asking for more female teams or male teams from outside of their institutions, we just want these schools to be able to field teams of their own.
I love this team, I love this sport, I love what it stands for, at least until my teams being told it can no longer exist.
- Gabrielle Martone
Please support our cause by reading our petition and providing a signature! The link is below: