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World Athletics announce ban on trans women from competing in female events

The change will come into effect on 31 March - International Transgender Day of Visibility.

By Jamie Tabberer

A person running track
(Image: Pixels)

World Athletics is to ban trans women who have been through puberty from competing in elite female competitions at international events.

The change will come into effect on 31 March 2023 – which is International Transgender Day of Visibility.

At present, trans women can compete in such competitions if their testosterone levels are sufficiently reduced.

Lord Sebastian Coe, the governing body’s president, revealed the news at a press conference in Monaco yesterday (Thursday 23 March 2023).

However, speaking after the conference, the World Athletics boss conceded that there aren’t even “any transgender athletes in international competition” – adding “that day may come.”

“The science is insufficient to justify maintaining testosterone suppression for transgender athletes”

Lord Coe said the move was “guided by the overarching principle which is to protect the female category.”

He continued: “Decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups, but we continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations.

“We will be guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage which will inevitably develop over the coming years. As more evidence becomes available, we will review our position, but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount.”

He elsewhere said: “Where the science is insufficient to justify maintaining testosterone suppression for transgender athletes, the council agreed it must be guided by our overarching principle, which is to protect the female category.”

Lord Coe furthermore added: “We’re not saying no forever.”

According to the BBC, the Council will set up a working group for 12 months to “further consider the issue of transgender inclusion.”

In an interview with Sky News, Lord Coe went on to say: “We don’t have any transgender athletes in international competition, that day may come. But until we understand a great deal more about the science around this, which we don’t, we have to fall back on a fundamental principle and that is that we are here charged with the responsibility of defending the female category, and that is what we have done.”

“So disappointing”

Responding to the news, a rep for LGBTQ rights charity Stonewall said: “It is so disappointing to see World Athletics announce a unilateral ban on trans women in track and field events.

“Their own statement recognises that there are no trans women competing at an international level and that they have no specific evidence to justify the ban.”

Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of inclusive sports campaigning website Athlete Ally said in a statement: “We are beyond devastated to see World Athletics succumbing to political pressure instead of core principles of inclusion, fairness and non-discrimination for transgender athletes and athletes with intersex traits.”

Taylor furthermore continued: “The guidelines announced today go against inclusive guidelines from the International Olympic Committee as well as extensive research showing that transgender women do not have an inherent advantage in sport. Sebastian Coe states that these guidelines are an attempt to protect women’s sport, but in fact these guidelines do nothing to address what we know to be the actual, proven threats to women’s sports: unequal pay, rampant sexual abuse and harassment, lack of women in leadership and inequities in resources for women athletes.”

Ricki Coughlan, who is one of Australia’s first transgender athletes in professional running, responded [as per The Independent]: “There’s no nice way of putting this. The forces of hate that are out there that don’t want transgender people to exist in our society […] will take this as a win and will then say: ‘OK, let’s move onto the next thing’.”