World Athletics Bans Trans Women from Competing in International Female Events


The global governing body of athletics, World Athletics, has announced a ban on transgender women from competing in international female events.

The ban will come into effect from March 31, and is part of a larger push across professional sporting bodies to limit trans women from competing in female categories, which can have a knock-on effect on junior and amateur competitors too.

World Athletics president Lord Coe stated that the decision was taken to “protect the female category in our sport,” but this move has sparked controversy, with many arguing that banning trans women from elite sport is discriminatory and exclusionary.

While some people believe that transgender women should not compete in elite women’s sport due to any advantages they may retain from before transitioning, others argue that trans women should have equal access to sports.

Stonewall, a British LGBT+ charity, expressed disappointment at the decision, highlighting that there are currently no transgender athletes competing internationally in athletics.

Lord Coe announced that a working group will be set up to consult with transgender athletes and review or commission additional research to put forward future recommendations to the Council.

Last year, governing organisations for swimming and rugby league voted to ban athletes who have gone through male puberty from racing in women’s events.

The move follows a growing concern that trans women could have an unfair advantage in female categories, given that testosterone levels can influence performance.

In addition to the controversy around trans women in sport, there are also grey areas when it comes to gender identity and sports. The UK’s sports councils have acknowledged that there is no solution that balances the participation of trans women in female sport while achieving competitive fairness and safety.

They also argue that there may not be a common single competition model which will meet the needs of full transgender inclusion while retaining competitive fairness, particularly in female sport.

Another factor that complicates matters is testosterone. The role of the hormone alone in predicting performance in sport is often unclear, as the International Olympic Committee has acknowledged. The UK sports councils have stated that trans women retain stamina, strength and physique when competing in female sport, even if their testosterone levels have been reduced.

The issue of trans women in sport remains highly controversial, with arguments on both sides.

While the decision by World Athletics to ban trans women from international female events has been criticized by some, others see it as a necessary move to protect the integrity of women’s sports. As the debate continues, it is likely that more research will be conducted to better understand the impact of gender identity on sports performance, and to develop policies that are fair and inclusive for all athletes.

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