Sunday, June 26, 2022

From swimming to cycling, where the sport is into transgender athletes

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Fina’s decision to ban transgender athletes from both male and female competitions has put the politics of other sports in sharp perspective.

The International Olympic Committee has indicated that it will allow each sport to make its own rules regarding gender inclusion and would not embark on introducing a new “open” category at the Games.

Here we summarize the current positions of various international and national governing bodies.

The sport’s international governing body, Fina, has effectively barred transgender athletes from participating in women’s events, deeming them ineligible once they have passed male puberty. Fina has also pledged to form a working group to set up an “open” category for transgender athletes in the future. The move means Lia Thomas, who became the first transgender swimmer to win a major US national college title in March, will be banned from competing in the women’s category effective immediately.

Fifa says it is currently reviewing its gender-based admissions rules and is therefore unable to comment on proposed changes to the existing rules. The Football Association is currently reviewing each case individually based on what it calls “hormone-based requirements”. It says its grassroots sport policy will be reviewed.

World Athletics President Lord Coe has made it clear that athletics stands ready to follow swim’s example of banning transgender athletes from male and female competition and instead steering them into a new “open” category. The governing body is currently drafting a new policy, but Coe said “fairness is non-negotiable”.

International rules set by the International Cricket Council allow transgender male-to-female players to compete in women’s matches provided they sign a statement stating their gender identity is female and they have sufficiently low testosterone levels. At the national level, the current rules of the England and Wales Cricket Board prohibit transgender men, or those who identify as non-binary, from playing women-only matches. Both the ICC and the ECB are currently reviewing their respective policies on transgender participation.

World Rugby does not allow trans women to play elite women’s rugby for “safety and fairness reasons”. All unions, including Rugby Football Union, are required to implement this policy at the elite level, but they can set their own policy at the community level.

The sport’s world governing body, the International Rugby League, has banned male-to-female transgender athletes from participating in the sport pending investigations into its final inclusion policy.

Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, earlier this month tightened its rules on transgender eligibility, doubling the length of time before a rider who changes from male to female can compete to 24 months. It said it made the judgment in the light of “new scientific studies”. British Cycling suspended its transgender and non-binary policy – and effectively the affected athletes – in April pending a full review.

The World Federation of Gymnastics, FIG, confirmed in a brief statement that it “for now has no specific guidelines” on the inclusion of transgender athletes.

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