Stacey Pearson, the WSL and FIFA referee who campaigns alongside her partner for a change in the law on funding IVF for same-sex couples, thanked the football community for their support.
More than 33,000 people have so far signed a petition calling for a discussion in Parliament on the disparity in NHS thresholds for fertility treatment in England compared to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and for that greater consistency be introduced as part of an on-going “ postal code lottery ”. which exists for same-sex couples and not for heterosexual couples.
Pearson and her partner Danielle Beazer have suffered two miscarriages and another failed IVF cycle in recent months, with treatments costing thousands of pounds.
Pearson played midfield for Yeovil for nearly a decade before moving on to refereeing later, while Beazer is a former Bristol and Keynsham defender.
As a result of their experiences, their knowledge of the complex landscape facing mothers-to-be of same-sex couples in England has increased dramatically, and their campaign aims to help others in similar scenarios who are trying to navigate the system.
Talk to Sky Sports‘Hannah Wilkes on The women’s football showPearson says the support for him and Beazer throughout the game was especially encouraging.
“I was actually quite shocked at the immediate participation,” said Pearson.
“Even today I have more people saying I didn’t know how many attempts you must have before being considered for funding on the NHS. It seems a little unfair.
“I decided to use my football platform to try and make a difference for other same-sex couples who are coming in because it was not an easy trip for us.”
Pearson detailed the “devastating” impact of the couple’s miscarriages and the confusion caused by the different rules on fertility treatment in each of the four sending countries in an interview with Sky Sports during Lesbian Visibility Week in April.
“There are lots of different stories that people have told us since we went public about how they received similar treatment,” added Pearson.
“There is one that I discovered about a couple who had had three failed cycles of IVF or IUI. They went to try to get funding from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and were turned down.
“However, because one of the women had fertility issues, if she had gone alone and not gone in a same-sex relationship, she would have been accepted. How is that fair?”
Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week, which kicks off May 10, Pearson hopes to encourage more athletes to discuss the challenges they face in life and invite the wider community to show support and seek positive change. .
“A lot of people go through things in silence, things they don’t talk about,” Pearson said.
“We want to help. There are a few things we would have done differently, looking back. We want to make people aware of the bigger picture.
“It is really important that we stay united, whatever our role in football. We all want to make a difference in our community.”
Visit “TwoMumsIVFJourney” – the blog of Stacey Pearson and Danielle Beazer – and access their Change.org petition.
Sky Sports is a member of TeamPride which supports Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign. Your story of being LGBT + or an ally could help make sport everyone’s game. To discuss it further, please contact us here.