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  • Why do we need to protect the female sporting category?
    The reason we have male/female sporting categories is that we recognise that males have a significant sporting advantage over females. The effect of testosterone makes males (on average) stronger, taller and heavier than females. They have greater lung capacity and muscle mass, longer arms and greater reach. They can run faster, jump longer, throw further and lift more. The differences in performance for elite male and female athletes is so marked across a wide range of sports that female athletes simply cannot bridge the gap. It is not hard to see the performance gap – thousands of teenage boys and adult males outperform the very best biological females every year. Safety and fairness are crucial in sports. The current movement to include trans-identifying males will compromise both. If we do not act to protect the female category, female competitors will be at greater risk of injury in any sports involving contact. Further, the impact on women and girls of competing against males who have an unbeatable advantage that no amount of training will overcome is likely to be far-reaching. We have heard from elite athletes who have missed out on opportunities and prizes that they deserved, these women are demoralised and angry, yet they are afraid to speak out for fear of repercussions. The wider effects on women and girls’ reduced participation in sports is likely to be seen in years to come. We highly recommend watching the following video with Dr. Ross Tucker, PhD, who was involved in the development of World Rugby's Transgender Guidelines. as he presents biological perspectives on transgender athletes in sport.
  • How is the female sports category under threat?
    After many years of progress for women’s participation in sports, a new challenge has appeared: male-born athletes who identify as women are being allowed to compete against females. This is unfair to women. Female athletes who want to protest this clear injustice often face barriers: they risk a media backlash, jeopardising contracts with commercial sponsors, and being disciplined by their sporting bodies.
  • How did we get to this situation?
    In 2003 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued a set of regulations that permitted transwomen to compete if they met the following criteria: · Testes removed two years prior to competition · Legal female identity · Hormone levels similar to female profiles. In 2015 new guidelines loosened the qualifying criteria for transwomen. · “Sex reassignment surgery” was no longer required. Athletes could retain their testicles · A “sworn declaration” of female identity was sufficient, and there was no longer a requirement to be legally female · Testosterone must be maintained at less than 10 nmol for a minimum of 12 months (this is much higher than female ranges). Many sporting bodies embraced the IOC guidelines. A few, including the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), have set lower testosterone limits (though often higher than typical female ranges). The testosterone-centered policies used at the Olympics aren’t just about elite sports. They trickle down to even the recreational and youth levels, and end up undermining fairness, safety and opportunities for females in sport. In 2022 the IOC updated their policy yet again, this time placing the responsibility of establishing guidelines for trans inclusion on each individual sport. It also concludes that sporting bodies should not assume that transgender women have an inherent advantage over cisgender women, nor should transgender women have to reduce their testosterone levels to compete. Scientists have warned that the IOC’s new guidance – which states there is no need for trans women to lower their testosterone to compete against natal women – ignores the science on sex, gender and performance and focuses mostly on inclusion. While many of our sporting leaders are currently prioritising inclusion, we believe safety and fairness, with universal currency in every discipline of sport and recreation, deserve priority. Fostering an environment of disregard for physical or mental wellbeing, or displaying disrespect for fair play, is unwelcoming and potentially damaging to all participants - but most especially females.
  • When males transition to transwomen, don’t they lose the advantages they once had?"
    First of all, unless the sporting body expressly requires and monitors testosterone levels, “transition” does not require a trans-identifying male to undergo any physical changes to identify as a woman and to join the female sporting category. If a trans-identifying male elects to remove his testes or to use hormones (most commonly oestrogen) this will suppress testosterone production. Although this will reduce the performance advantage to some extent it does not undo all the advantages of testosterone on greater muscle mass, skeletal muscle, stiffer connective tissue, fat distribution, longer, larger and denser skeletal structure and cardiovascular and respiratory function.[1] Research shows that even following testosterone reduction males retain significant performance advantages, even after 3 years of hormone treatment[2]. We recommend watching this excellent analysis by Prof. Ross Tucker, of Science of Sport:
  • If this was a significant issue, surely we would have seen lots of transgender Olympic gold medallists before now?"
    Historically there have been restrictions on trans-identifying males competing in female sports at community and elite levels. In 2003 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued a set of regulations that only allowed trans-identified males to compete in the female category if they met the following criteria: Testes removed two years prior to competition; Legal female identity; and Hormone levels similar to female profiles. In 2015 new guidelines loosened the qualifying criteria for transwomen. “Sex reassignment surgery” was no longer required; A “sworn declaration” of female identity was sufficient; Testosterone must be maintained at less than 10 nmol for a minimum of 12 months (this is much higher than female ranges). The latest guidelines do away with even these restrictions. In November 2021 the IOC’s guidelines made a mockery of the female sporting category. All that a male needs to do to compete in the female category is to say that he is one. Despite the research, and common sense, that says otherwise, the Guidelines state that there should be no presumption of performance advantage on the basis of an athlete’s sex.[1] Although national and community sporting organisations are not required to follow the IOC’s guidelines, a number of organisations are doing so. The numbers of trans-identifying males in female sports is on the rise and we are increasingly hearing from athletes as well as parents of young girls who are very concerned but feel powerless.
  • Don’t trans athletes deserve to participate in sport?
    Yes. We believe in the power of sport and we believe that everyone should be encouraged to participate in sport. BUT we do not believe that everyone should be able to play in the female category. We have age-restrictions and weight-restrictions in certain sports for good reason, likewise sex-categories exist for good reason. Where sports categories are split by sex, in recognition of the physical advantages that males have over females, male-born athletes should be restricted from competing in the female category but they should have an equal opportunity to compete in the men’s or open categories.
  • Are females just being sore losers?
    No. Female athletes are not able to mitigate the biological advantages that are retained by male bodies. No amount of will power or training can override the powerful impact of testosterone.
  • Where can I find out more?
    World Rugby undertook an extensive research-based review of their transgender policy. Their findings and research can be found here: And the UK Sports Council undertook a review of international literature in their review and draft of the Guidance for Transgender Inclusion in Domestic Sport which you can read here. Fair Play for Women in the UK, and US-based campaign group Save Women’s Sports have lots of information on their websites. There are informative videos of the speakers at the UK Women’s Place/Fair Play event available on Youtube.
  • How can I take action in support of women’s sport?
    There are a few ways to take action: Speak up! Share information on social media, tell your friends, contact your local MP as well as your local, regional and national sporting associations to let them know why we need to protect the female category. If you have a story to share, we would love to hear from you. We would appreciate your financial support as we continue our fight to #Savewomenssport!
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