Statement by the DQB Board on a complaint by the Hannover Nifflers

The board of the Deutscher Quidditchbund (DQB) issues the following statement concerning the allegations claiming a transphobic background being manifest in one of our member teams that was posted on various Facebook groups this past Sunday August 5, 2018.

The referred-to allegations were already part of a DQB-internal formal complaint process filed by the team Hannover Niffler against the team Swooping Evils. Both teams either are currently or were at some point members of Sportgemeinschaft von 1874 Hannover e.V. (SG74), which, as a club, is a regular DQB member.
The complainants stated that the Swooping Evils team was founded for the sole purpose of excluding a transgender person in the Hannover Nifflers from the team. This allegation was based on several transphobic comments allegedly made by their members. This complaint was duly investigated by DQB, a process within which both parties were heard.

The details of the investigation and of the formal complaint process have been kept strictly confidential by DQB at all times and have therefore not been part of the board meeting minutes that have been released to the public. This is in line with the general procedures through which complaints are processed by DQB in order to prevent the prejudgment of such cases by third parties, particularly in the absence of complete background information.
This public statement has been issued in response to the August 5th publication of the Hannover Nifflers’ views. DQB’s objective with the release of this statement is to communicate its perspective on the issue and the processes associated with it. 

DQB was first informed in January 2018 about conflicts within in the Hannover Nifflers that have partly been caused by alleged transphobic remarks made by one of the team members. At this point, the team repeatedly sat together in order to discuss a mutually agreeable solution to the conflict.
After these meetings failed to yield a solution to the problems, the team contacted its club SG74, who then in turn contacted DQB. On various communications that included telephone conversations and correspondence with a board member of the DQB, a neutral representative of the club confirmed that going forward, there would in fact be two quidditch teams in SG74. The contact person appointed by the club was to speak on behalf of both Swooping Evils and Hannover Nifflers. DQB accepted this and pointed out that, should transphobic actions indeed have occurred, the way of a formal complaint would still be open.

Formal complaints to DQB can be issued through its website and are overseen by its president. Once a complaint is received, it is duly investigated by the DQB following a standard procedure:
1. Examination of the submission by the president (Is this indeed a complaint?) who then forwards the complaint to the board for further discussion during the next board meeting.
2. The Board checks whether the complaint falls into its jurisdiction. If this is not deemed to be the case, consideration is given to determine who the responsible authorities are.
3. Clarification of possible questions to the complainant.
4. The person or team that the complaint was filed against is approached. The complaint will either be forwarded in its original wording or as a summary. The accused is then given the chance to take position regarding the complaint. This can happen either in writing or via personal contact, e.g. via Skype.
5. Evaluation of all information received by the board and ruling based thereupon..
6. Archiving of the complaint and all relevant information for future reference.

Additionally, DQB’s Social Impact Team may be involved. In this specific case, this happened in two ways: 1) one member of the Hannover Nifflers also functions as a member of the Social Impact Team, and 2) at least one other Social Impact Team member was informed about the conflict within the Hannover Nifflers before the first contact between the tem and the DQB board was made. Further notification of the issue to the Social Impact Team was therefore not deemed necessary. A request regarding the matter sent to the DQB board by the Social Impact Team was replied to within a few days.

The formal complaint by the Hannover Nifflers was filed on April 6, 2018, and was discussed in the following board meeting that was held on April 8, 2018. The exact wording of the complaint can be found in the collection of data published by the Hannover Nifflers. As the complaint mentioned a specific situation in which transphobic comments occured, but failed to provide further details regarding said remarks, the board then contacted the team to request further details on said allegations. The complainants explained the context, while also emphasizing that the complaint was not intended to address individual instances of transphobic behavior. Rather, it focused on the claim that the Swooping Evils were founded primarily for the purpose of excluding a transgender person playing for Hannover Nifflers and their supporters.

At the time of the complaint, the Hannover Nifflers were the only registered team of SG74. The first application for DQB membership by the Swooping Evils team was submitted on April 10, 2018; this application was rejected due to formal errors before it entered the stage of serious consideration (request for a second full membership for SG74 instead of a second team). The corrected membership application was submitted on April 23, 2018. During its review of the membership application, the board decided to put the process on hold until the formal complaint was resolved. The Swooping Evils were informed of this decision.

DQB then approached Swooping Evils, based on the complaint and the recent additions made by the Hannover Nifflers, and confronted them with the allegations made regarding the founding of the team and the alleged transphobic behavior of its members. The Swooping Evils strongly rejected these allegations and explained the circumstances surrounding their founding which do include certain differences that arose with players that remained with the Hannover Nifflers. Specific information regarding this was made available to the DQB, but will be treated confidential and not be disclosed at this point. The Swooping Evils admitted to at least one instance of transphobic remarks, but pointed out that an apology had been offered for this behavior.

The board reflected on this statement and the original complaint, and reached the above mentioned conclusion: There is not sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegation that the Swooping Evils were founded with the intent of excluding transgender persons and their supporters. While both parties agree on the occurrence of some transphobic behavior, the two teams maintain conflicting claims on how such occurrence was further handled. The same applies for their perspectives on the underlying the motives for the founding of the Swooping Evils.
In conclusion, it is therefore not possible for DQB to make a clear ruling based on the information it has been presented with by both sides. Sanctions against the Swooping Evils are therefore not appropriate. As a result, the DQB has decided not to initiate formal actions at this time.

While the complaint was being processed by DQB, the Hannover Nifflers drew their own conclusions of their conflict with the Swooping Evils and took the decision to leave SG74 on July 1, 2018. As a result, they are currently not affiliated with any DQB member. SG74’s request for acceptance of Swooping Evils as its primary team within DQB was granted after the conclusion of the complaint process.

Finally, we would like to make clear that transphobia is not tolerated within Deutscher Quidditchbund. The inclusion of individuals who cannot or do not want to be bound or classified within the binary gender system is extremely important to us as well. DQB has at no point shown any tolerance for transphobic behavior. An email dated February 16, 2018, which the Hannover Nifflers refer to in their documentation of the complaint proceeding, was admittedly phrased in a misleading manner. This was clarified in a follow-up email dated February 27, 2018.
The DQB board took the complaint filed by Hannover Niffler very seriously and has intensively addressed the matter over several months. The claims and testimony presented to DQB by both parties as a part of the complaint investigation process did not, however, provide us with any reason nor means for further action.
DQB sees it as its duty, particularly while dealing with formal complaints, to follow the fundamental principles of the rule of law. In cases of conflicting statements and where no further evidentiary means are presented, such as the one hereby presented, DQB will not assume any allegation as being more true than others, for it is not its place to do so. The complaint filed by the Hannover Nifflers was therefore denied.

Independently of the above-mentioned process, we would like to stress our irritation concerning the actions taken by the Hannover Nifflers in the follow-up to their complaint. On July 30, 2018, we received an email requesting us to extensively take position regarding the process and to transparently disclose how we reached our decision. While there was a general consensus in the board pertaining to the willingness to fulfill this request, the next regular board meeting where such a statement could have been decided on was scheduled for Sunday, August 5, 2018 at 9 pm. Sadly, the statement published by the Hannover Nifflers on that same date came prior to said board meeting. An earlier possibility to take position on their statement, which we would have welcomed regarding the allegations made therein, has not been presented to us. A shortened version of this statement has been sent to the Hannover Nifflers as a reply to their original request, on the evening of August 6th as a result of the developments of August 5th. We acknowledge the high importance of the topic for the people involved and that we could and should have communicated faster and more frequently in the handling of the complaint. Furthermore we deeply regret that this situation has lead to individuals turning away from our sport. We do, however, strongly reject the implicit allegations made in the published statement that DQB, whether as an organization, as board or as individuals, is transphobic. Whilst admittedly limited by our modest possibilities and resources, we are doing everything we can to make our sport available for people of all ages, regardless of their gender, origin, religion, political beliefs or sexual preference.

Even though this particular complaint process was not the first that the DQB board dealt with, it does hold a special standing due to its length and due to the sensitive and important nature of the central issue that plays a key role in our organisation and in the quidditch community as a whole. Based on the experiences we have made over the past few months, we will start initiating the following actions:
- The current board and the new board to be elected in the upcoming general assembly will revise the general course of complaint proceedings. A document outlining the entire complaint process, from the submission or filing of the complaint, up to the ruling made, will be published on the DQB website shortly.
- The public discussion within the German quidditch community in reaction to the Hannover Nifflers’ publications has shown that the topic of gender integration is perceived in various ways. Work needs to be done from an institutional standpoint to respectfully unite the different views and perspectives within the community. We hope for input and support from the quidditch community as we pursue this path.
- Suggestions and other thoughts regarding the topic can be sent to the DQB president, Nina Heise, and, in due time to her successor (president[at]deutscherquidditchbund.de). The Social Impact Team remains available as well (socialimpact[at]deutscherquidditchbund.de).

The Board of Deutschen Quidditchbund e.V.
Nina Heise (President), Niklas Müller (Vice President), Nadine Cyrannek (Teams Director), Matti Gantenberg (Gameplay Director), Roman Kehrberger (Treasurer), Juliane Schillinger (PR Director)

Please note that this is a translation of the German original statement. In case of discrepancies between the two versions, refer to the German one.