England Team Member Expresses Disquiet
“There was a huge amount of disquiet,” said Sue Lightbody, a member of the England team. “But nobody was prepared to say or do anything. I was quite sick about the situation. We thought it would go against us, that we wouldn’t be picked for another team. Everything was hush-hush, everyone was worried about being called transphobic. People told me not to get involved, saying, ‘Don’t do anything, you’ll make yourself very unpopular’. But this just shouldn’t happen. It fundamentally isn’t fair.”
Rachel Gee’s Disappointment
Gumbrell defeated England’s Rachel Gee in the final. Gee, a former European Golf Croquet champion and World Women’s Golf Croquet champion, was visibly upset. A fellow female competitor expressed sympathy, stating, “I really felt sorry in the final for Rachel, who at the end was hiding behind her sunglasses because she was crying. She didn’t complain. She had been training so hard to be the women’s world champion, and then someone born male comes and takes it away.”
Gumbrell’s Transition and Previous Success
Gumbrell had previously competed in male competitions as early as 2019 and was considered a rising star in the sport. However, after identifying as female following the country’s reopening and the return of sports post-pandemic, Gumbrell entered the women’s world championships.
Transgender Inclusion Policy
The World Croquet Federation (WCF) implemented its transgender inclusion policy in April 2022. According to the policy, players should compete in events that align with their persistently and consistently used gender identity. WCF President Ian Burridge defended the policy, stating, “Jamie now identifies as female as her entry into the world championships was determined in accordance with our policy, approved by our members in April 2022.”
Debate on Fairness and Advantage
Lightbody argued that males inherently have an advantage in the game of golf croquet. She highlighted the jump shot, stating, “If you’re on the boundary, you can jump over a couple of balls and get through a hoop. I can only do mid-jumps, I can’t do one from the baseline. But Jamie can. That is a huge advantage over a woman.”
Croquet Australia has not yet responded to requests for comment.