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News & Press: National

Gender Neutral Announcement

Monday, September 16, 2019   (7 Comments)
Posted by: Herb McGurk
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Gender Neutral Committee (GNC)

USA Dance plans to make a long overdue change in the coming months – all their sanctioned competitions will be gender-neutral. This means that regardless of a dancer’s gender, they are welcome to compete in the role that best suits them and all couples of any configuration will compete on the floor together. This change will establish USA Dance nationally and internationally as an organization that affords all dancers the equality, dignity, and respect that they deserve.

In the summer of 2018, the DanceSport Council (DSC) first put out the word asking for volunteers who would work together to identify and address the necessary changes to make all USA Dance competitions open to what was then termed “same sex” couples. The newly formed committee consisted of amateur and professional dancers of all experience levels and various gender identities. One of their first actions was to adopt the term “gender neutral” over “same sex” in recognition of the fact that a competitive couple might consist of various gender configurations. That term has now been adopted industry-wide as other organizations have followed USA Dance in making similar changes.

One of the highlights for the Gender Neutral Committee (GNC) thus far has been crafting a plan for gender-neutral implementation that accompanied a USA Dance motion to the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF). The motion aims to change the definition of a couple from a “man” and a “woman” to “two athletes” to allow competitors of any gender configuration to compete, and to be able to represent their country at world championships. While the motion process is ongoing with the WDSF, the GNC has been encouraged by the positive feedback its rollout plan received from USA Dance administrators and by responses from other WDSF member federations.

Moving forward, the GNC has three primary goals:

1) To craft costuming rules that provide guidance to dancers, while allowing athletes the freedom to express themselves;

2) To establish an adjudicator training session to be held before the 2020-2021 competition season;

3) To work with event organizers so that they can easily make the transition to being fully gender-neutral.

On behalf of the entire USA Dance organization, the GNC is working hard to foresee all of the issues that may come up as USA Dance implements gender neutrality. The GNC recognizes that some dancers may not have felt welcome within the current framework, and welcomes questions and comments from past, current, and prospective USA Dance members regarding the upcoming changes. By giving all voices an opportunity to be heard, USA Dance can make the necessary structural and cultural changes within the organization.




Raymond Paskauskas says...
Posted Saturday, March 14, 2020
From both of your earlier comments you explained the following: "Full integration of non-traditional competitors is simply the next natural step in the inevitable process of cultural change." . . . "All competitors will dance against the best couples in the most representative field possible, something many athletes welcome!" The Gender Neutral Committee (GNC) should not be so arrogant as to assume that all USA Dance members are willing to adopt your so-called "inevitable process of cultural change." I am still holding on to my Bible and do embrace a binary society that does exist biologically. Please assign non-binary dancers to a separate competition category, and USA Dance competitions should continue to thrive, long after we are past the coronavirus (Wuhan virus) pandemic.
Andrea M. Mirenda says...
Posted Wednesday, March 11, 2020
As to the understandable concern some may have that we are "rushing to adopt an imposed trend," USA Dance approved the inclusion of same-sex divisions in all competitions back in 2014. It wasn't widely publicized, however, and was left to each organizer to decide if they wanted to incorporate this into their event. The Gender Neutral Committee (GNC) of the Dance Sport Council (DSC) was established in November 2018 and has met biweekly for almost 18 months to ensure a thoughtful and strategic rollout - communicating internally with all involved groups, revising the rule book (including costuming rules), etc. Full integration of non-traditional competitors is simply the next natural step in the inevitable process of cultural change. -- Andrea Mirenda, Co-chair, USA Dance Gender Neutral Committee
Andrea M. Mirenda says...
Posted Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Thanks for your comments, Raymond. Change is always challenging and we want to be sure all voices are heard during this process. We don't know the exact percentage of non-traditional couples in the US because they haven't had access to USA Dance. We do know that entire federations have been created to allow them to dance. Gender neutrality is already common on the collegiate competition circuit. Some athletes struggle to find a partner and are willing to dance in a non-traditional role in order to have the opportunity to compete. Ultimately, we also want to acknowledge non-binary individuals in our dance community, and make them feel welcome too. As we provide more information and increase everyone’s familiarity and understanding, we anticipate dancers will appreciate this change. All competitors will dance against the best couples in the most representative field possible, something many athletes welcome! -- Andrea Mirenda, Co-chair, USA Dance Gender Neutral Committee
Raymond Paskauskas says...
Posted Friday, February 21, 2020
This gender neutral position does not bode well for USA Dance, I fear. What percentage of its amateur and professional dancing couples are actually same sex (gender neutral)? Will our traditional couples (male and female) who decide to participate at competitions really want to compete with same sex couples? You may encounter lawsuits if titles are lost to same sex couples. This is happening now in schools where female athletes are being displaced unfairly by transgender athletes competing against women. Women athletes are suing the school districts to exclude transgenders in their competitions. Beware the rush to adopt an imposed trend that is not culturally accepted by most of society!
Andrea M. Mirenda says...
Posted Thursday, February 20, 2020
Daryl, you can simply say that all couples are welcome, regardless of gender. When addressing a group, an MC could say dancers, competitors, everyone or all, rather than ladies and gentlemen i.e., "Welcome, everyone!" or "Good afternoon, competitors!" In many situations it's easy to replace "Gentlemen" or "Ladies" with "Leaders" or "Followers," i.e., "Leaders, please turn your backs to the podium so we can see your numbers." It will take time to change verbal habits but as long as an effort is clearly being made, non-traditional couples will be understanding and are happy to give suggestions when respectfully asked how they would like to be addressed. -- Andrea Mirenda, Co-chair, USA Dance Gender Neutral Committee
Makhya Walls says...
Posted Friday, January 24, 2020
Could you just say "dancers"?
Daryl Schmidt says...
Posted Monday, December 30, 2019
In the past USA Dance defined a couple as a “man” and a “woman” . What guidance can you give on how we speak with and encourage gender neutral couples "two athletes" to enter our competition? In the past we had to explain that couples had to be a "man" and a "woman".

Photography on Home Page

Hero 1 - Mike & Rose-Ann Lynch - Nationals 2018 Photography by Lisa Dubinsky

Hero 2 - USA Dance Los Angeles Chapter Dance - Photography by Jerry Hernandez

Hero 3 - Nationals 2016 - Photography by Carson Zullinger

Hero 4 - Team USA - WDSF World Sr. IV Standard, Nagano, Japan Courtesy of Winston Chow

Carousel 1 - Adult Latin Nationals 2018 - Photography by Lisa Dubinksy

Carousel 2 - Nationals 2018 - Photography by Lisa Dubinsky

Carousel 3 - NCDC 2018 - Photography by Lisa Dubinsky

Carousel 4 - CFC 2018 - Photography by Calvin Long

Carousel 5 - Minnesota Chapter Flash Mob - Photography by David Chin