Transgender athletes condemn ban on inclusion in female events

March 25, 2023 3:18 pm

[Source: Reuters Sports]

Transgender athletes have condemned World Athletics’ exclusion of transgender women from elite female competitions, while the decision was welcomed by some sportswomen as a win for fairness.

Athletics’ global governing body on Thursday voted to ban transgender women who have gone through male puberty from competing in women’s events, citing a “need to protect the female category”.

Canadian cyclist Kristen Worley, a transitioned athlete who has legally challenged the gender policies of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said the World Athletics (WA) decision was “disheartening and disappointing”.

Article continues after advertisement

The decision follows a similar move by World Aquatics, the global governing body for swimming, to exclude transgender athletes from women’s categories last year.

WA President Sebastian Coe said the decision was made after consulting 40 member federations, coaches, athletes, transgender groups, United Nations experts and the IOC.

While some argue that going through male puberty gives transgender women physical advantages, supporters of transgender participation in sports say not enough research has been done into whether transgender women have any advantage.

Worley said the notion that transgender women athletes were dominating women’s sport was nonsense.

Ricki Coughlan, one of Australia’s first transgender athletes in professional running, said WA’s ruling would embolden the “forces of hate” against transgender people.

WA also tightened eligibility requirements for athletes with Differences in Sex Development in women’s events, halving the upper threshold of testosterone levels.

DSD athletes have male testes but do not produce enough of the hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that is necessary for the formation of male external genitalia.

Athlete Ally advocates for the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in sport.

Australia’s national athletics federation said it would abide by the WA decision, but retain its own guidelines for including transgender athletes in community-level sport.

New Zealand’s federation said the subject of transgender athletes was “a very sensitive topic” and it needed time to digest and understand the new rules.

A number of elite women in track and field welcomed the WA decision, including British runner and Olympian Emily Diamond who tweeted “thank you for following the science”.

Olympian and marathon runner Mara Yamauchi tweeted: “Good news! Odd to celebrate something which is common sense.”

Save Women’s Sport Australasia, a group campaigning against transgender athletes in female sport, applauded the decision.