Rugby is the latest sport to exclude trans athletes from competition, along with athletics and football with a similar policy

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Topline

Transgender female rugby players will be barred from women’s international competitions as officials draw up a formal inclusion policy, the sport’s international governing body announcement Tuesday, the latest federation to ban transgender athletes as the world of sport tries to balance inclusion, fairness and safety.

Highlights

The International Rugby League (IRL) said he considered “several relevant developments in global sport” when making the decision, including recent guidance from the International Olympic Committee that each sport should determine its policies governing the inclusion of transgender athletes.

The ban means trans athletes will not be able to compete in the Women’s Rugby World Cup in October.

Explaining its decision, the IRL said it had a duty to balance the right to participate with the “perceived risk to other participants” and that the body will undertake further research to finalize its inclusion policy in 2023.

The decision follows a vote on Sunday by FINA, the world governing body for swimming, to ban the majority of trans women from competing in elite events and comes amid reports that a number of other sports federations are considering similar policies.

Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of World Athletics, hinted on Monday that athletics could suit and exclude trans athletes from women’s competitions, telling the BBC that “biology trumps gender” and that “equity is non-negotiable”.

FIFA, the international governing body for football, said Reuters it also reviews its policies, but would not comment on specifics.

Key Context

The inclusion of trans people, especially trans women, in sport is a contentious and contentious issue that has preoccupied sports federations for years. The IOC’s recommendation that individual sports deal with the issue themselves means rugby league and swimming are likely to be frontrunners for many new policies. Not all policies will stop trans women from competing, and cycling’s international governing body, which updated tips this month tightened its eligibility criteria but did not ban athletes.

Peg News

Debates about trans inclusion in sport have recently erupted in cases of trans success, including the competition of New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, a trans woman, at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the success of Lia Thomas, a trans woman and former University of Pennsylvania. swimmer, who became the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I individual national title in March.

Tangent

Critics tend to Argue that trans participation is unfair and at the expense of other athletes, with biological advantages such as high testosterone levels used to justify excluding competitors from events that match their gender identity, even if they have transitioned. Scientific to research suggests there may be a possible advantage for trans women attending women’s events, although this is far from it definitive and does not definitely back ban trans athletes from in competition. Despite the purported advantage that trans athletes have, there is little evidence that trans athletes invariably dominate the sports in which they compete. For example, despite nearly two decades of Olympics eligibility, the first openly trans athletes qualified for Tokyo 2020. Of those athletes, only one – Quinn from Canada, a non-binary trans soccer player – won a medal. Hubbard also competed, as did non-binary skateboarder Alana Smith. Although no medals were awarded and Quinn won gold, media coverage and commentary was dominated by Hubbard.

Chief Spokesperson

activists have speak against bans as discriminatory and not rooted in science. Joni Madison, Acting President of the Human Rights Campaign, said FINA’s “discriminatory decision is a blatant attack on transgender athletes who have worked to comply with longstanding policies that have allowed them to compete for years without issue.” Madison said the policy was an example of swimming organizations “giving in to the avalanche of ill-informed and damaging attacks aimed at one particular transgender swimmer” and urged FINA to rethink its decision. Policies are “fueled by discrimination, not facts“, added the organization.

Further reading

The World Swimming Federation excludes most transgender women from elite events, but weighs in the ‘Open Competition’ category (Forbes)

A record number of openly LGBTQ+ athletes will compete at Beijing 2022 – including the first openly non-binary Winter Olympian (Forbes)

Here are the first openly transgender and non-binary Olympians making history in Tokyo (Forbes)

The battle over gender therapy (NYT)


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