British Rugby Seeks to Ban Trans Athletes from Competing Against Women

Rugby
David Rogers/Getty Images

The British Rugby Football Union is moving toward banning transgender athletes from competing among natural-born women, according to reports.

The announcement came on the heels of a two-year review of the issue and, if approved by the RFU Council, could take effect this coming season, according to the Daily Mail.

“The RFU council will vote on a recommendation for a policy change for contact rugby to only permit players in the female category whose sex recorded at birth was female,” the announcement read.

“This is a complex and difficult decision and the recommendation has not been made lightly or without thorough and full research and consultation,” the statement added.

Hope Rogers of Exeter Chiefs takes on Merryn Doidge of Exeter Chiefs during the Allianz Premier 15s Final match between Saracens Women and Exeter...

Hope Rogers of Exeter Chiefs takes on Merryn Doidge of Exeter Chiefs during the Allianz Premier 15s Final match between Saracens Women and Exeter Chiefs Women – Allianz Premier 15s Final at Sixways Stadium on June 03, 2022, in Worcester, England. (Dan Mullan – RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

“The RFU has contacted registered trans female players, on whom the policy will have a direct impact to offer its support in continuing to encourage them to participate in the sport,” it said.

Previously, the RFU allowed some trans athletes to compete on women’s teams on a case-by-case basis, and a few trans players had been allowed to join women’s teams.

But now, the league says it has determined that puberty gives men “advantages in strength, stamina and physique,” therefore allowing trans athletes is unfair to natural-born women.

As the RFU explained, “the inclusion of trans people assigned male at birth in female contact rugby cannot be balanced against considerations of safety and fairness.”

Mackenzie Carson of Saracens celebrates with team mates after scoring her teams fourth try during the Allianz Premier 15s Final match between...

Mackenzie Carson of Saracens celebrates with teammates after scoring her team’s fourth try during the Allianz Premier 15s Final match between Saracens Women and Exeter Chiefs Women – Allianz Premier 15s Final at Sixways Stadium on June 03, 2022, in Worcester, England. (David Rogers/Getty Images)

It is not yet known what the league will do with the six trans players that had already been approved for competition.

The RFU’s decision comes a month after a similar ban on trans athletes put in place by the International Rugby League, which banned trans players in June.

Also, in June, the international governing body for swimming, Fina, officially enacted rules to exclude transgender swimmers such as Lia Thomas from competing under their chosen gender in competitions organized under its authority.

The RFU is not the only British sport to ban trans athletes from competing as women. For example, British Triathlon recently ruled that trans athletes can only compete against men or other trans athletes and may not compete under the women’s category.

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