Transgender women athletes banned by world governing body

The topic of transgender women athletes competing in sporting events has been a hot-button issue for years. Recently, the World Athletics governing body implemented new regulations banning transgender women from competing in certain events unless they can prove their testosterone levels are below a certain threshold. The decision has been met with both criticism and support, sparking a larger conversation about the fairness of separating athletes based on gender and the inclusion of transgender individuals in sports. In this article, we will explore the new regulations and the debate surrounding them.

On March 23, World Athletics announced a ban on transgender women from competing in elite female competitions and tightened testosterone restrictions for other athletes. President Sebastian Coe justified the decision to exclude transgender women who had gone through male puberty as necessary “to protect the female category.” The new measures follow a similar move made by World Aquatics in 2022 to bar transgender women from elite competition if they have experienced any part of male puberty. The guidelines also cut the maximum amount of plasma testosterone for athletes with Differences in Sex Development (DSD) in half, to 2.5 nanomoles per litre, from five. DSD athletes will also have to reduce their testosterone levels below the new limit for a minimum of 24 months across all events to compete, double the previous time. The governing body had previously floated the option of transgender athletes being allowed to compete in the female category if they maintained testosterone levels below 2.5 nanomoles per litre for 24 months. However, it became apparent that there was little support within the sport for that proposal.

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A working group to study the issue of trans inclusion has been formed, which will be chaired by a transgender athlete. Coe said, “We don’t know enough, we now need to know more and that is the journey that we’re on. But we weren’t prepared to risk the female category on that basis.” The tighter testosterone rules will impact DSD athletes such as two-times Olympic 800 metre champion Caster Semenya, Christine Mboma, the 2020 Olympic silver medallist in the 200m, and Francine Niyonsaba, who finished runner-up to Semenya in the 800 at the 2016 Olympics. The governing body introduced interim provisions for athletes already competing outside the restricted events, who will be required to suppress their testosterone level to 2.5 nanomoles per litre for six months. This would prevent several women from competing at the forthcoming World Athletics Championships in August. Swimming’s governing body, World Aquatics, found that even after reducing their testosterone levels through medication, transgender women still had a significant advantage. In June 2021, its scientific panel passed a vote with 71% of national federations in favour of barring transgender women from elite competition if they had experienced any part of male puberty.

In conclusion, the ban on transgender women athletes by the world governing body has sparked a heated debate in the sports community. While some argue that it is necessary to ensure fair competition, others believe it is discriminatory and goes against the values of inclusivity and diversity in sports. It is important to continue the conversation and find a solution that respects the rights of transgender athletes while also maintaining the integrity of the sport. Changes in policies and attitudes towards transgender athletes in sports are necessary to create a level playing field for all individuals regardless of gender identity. We hope that this article has shed some light on this important issue and encourages further discussion and action towards a more inclusive and equitable sports world.

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