Safety risks could lead to reforms of transgender rules
World Rugby review could prompt action across sports Research shows lesser effect of testosterone reductions
Britain’s biggest sports are open to the prospect of refining legislation on transgender competitors, it emerged last night, after a World Rugby review highlighted safety risks in the women’s game.
Cricket, football and several other domestic sports are understood to be going through consultation over reforms, as experts and international federations underlined the need for new “made-tomeasure” rules at national levels.
Rugby is closest to announcing dramatic reforms, after a World Rugby review of its transgender policies, which allow trans women to play women’s rugby if they lower testosterone levels for at least 12 months in line with International Olympic Committee guidelines, found they were “not fit for the purpose”.
World Rugby says research confirmed a reduction of testosterone “does not lead to a proportionate reduction in mass, muscle mass, strength or power” and presented a “clear safety risk” when transgender women play women’s contact rugby.
The England and Wales Cricket Board, meanwhile, confirmed it was consulting other sports and gender health experts about possible changes. Only at international level in England do all women players need to have testosterone levels below a certain figure. However, last year Cricket Australia announced that testosterone levels would be tested in non-professional leagues. “There are no concrete plans to change our policy, however given the way this keeps evolving, it is something that might happen in the future,” an ECB source said.
In English football, any transsexual or transgender person wishing to play in their affirmed gender can seek to do so by contacting the Football Association to obtain clearance. “The application will take the form of a confidential conversation with the applicant and details of the evidence that the FA would require will be discussed with the person concerned,” the FA said in 2014.
The FA also said it was continuing to work with Gendered Intelligence, an organisation which helped the governing body devise its 2014 transgender policy. “We will continue to work with them to provide additional information to supplement the trans people in football guidance and review the policy as part of good governance,” an FA statement added.
Sporting bodies preparing for Tokyo 2020 are also involved in consultation, but will not announce any changes until after next summer’s postponed Games.
In rugby, trans men will be allowed to play men’s rugby, provided they have undergone a physical assessment and have signed a consent form.
Draft guidelines have now been drawn up and distributed to the national governing bodies for consultation ahead of the World Rugby council meeting in November, making it the first international sporting federation to do so.
World Rugby says it remains committed to exploring alternative participation avenues for transgender athletes, including non-contact forms of the game.