More sports bodies reviewing trans policies

LAUSANNE • The International Hockey Federation (IHF) and New Zealand Rugby yesterday joined a raft of governing bodies reviewing their policy on the involvement of transgender athletes in women's sport, following last weekend's ruling by swimming's top body Fina.

On Sunday, Fina voted to ban all who have been through male puberty from elite women's competitions and it aimed to establish an "open category" for transgender swimmers in some events as part of its new policy.

"We are conducting a review of our transgender policy and this is a current work in progress in consultation with the (International Olympic Committee)," said an IHF spokesman.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) also said yesterday it was undertaking a consultation over its transgender policy in the grassroots of the game and is aiming to be as inclusive as possible.

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson told Newshub: "There's different possibilities here we just need to work through. We're not going to speculate at this stage or in any way circumvent the consultation we're about to undertake."

World Athletics, football's governing body Fifa and World Netball are among others who are also reviewing their transgender policies after Fina's verdict, the strictest by any sports body.

Rugby league banned transgender players from women's international competition until further notice on Tuesday, while the International Cycling Union (UCI) last week tightened its eligibility rules.

But advocates for transgender inclusion argue not enough studies have yet been done on the impact of transition on physical performance to prove these athletes have an advantage over their peers.

The new Fina policy states that male-to-female transgender athletes are eligible to compete only if "they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 (of puberty) or before age 12, whichever is later".

Canadian Veronica Ivy, who in 2018 was the first transgender UCI masters world track cycling champion by winning in the women's 35-44 years category, described the policy as "unscientific".

"There hasn't been a single peer-reviewed study on trans women competitive swimmers to show that there's any competitive advantage for transitioning post puberty," Ivy said. "So to single out puberty as the break-off point isn't based on any evidence, it's not based on them seeing an advantage for trans women, they have only looked at cisgender male athletes compared to cisgender female athletes.

"When you're trying to single out trans women, you need to study trans women athletes... Fina has not done that."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2022, with the headline More sports bodies reviewing trans policies. Subscribe