Ban on transgender women in women’s rugby union

Women's Rugby transgender women

The English Rugby Football Union (RFU) will vote next Friday on whether to ban transgender women from women’s rugby union.

Until now, the governing body allowed transgender women to play at club levels after undergoing an independent medical assessment. But the organisation intends falling in behind World Rugby which previously banned transgender women from elite sport.

The RFU said it considered emerging science, consulted with other governing bodies and held a survey before recommending the ban.

“The review and consultation concluded that peer-reviewed research provides evidence that there are physical differences between those people whose sex was assigned as male and those as female at birth.”

According to the review, testosterone suppression did not achieve a sufficient result.

“Advantages in strength, stamina and physique brought about by male puberty are significant and retained even after testosterone suppression.”

‘Considerations of safety and fairness’

On that basis, the organisation recommended the banning of transgender women because of ‘considerations of safety and fairness’.

The RFU said that currently, six transgender women play community women’s rugby in England. An independent panel cleared the six to play after examining their testosterone levels and considering whether they posed a risk to opponents based on their size and weight.

But the RFU now describes that assessment as insufficient.

“The case-by-case assessment is not without difficulties.”

The RFI said it offered support to the players affected by the new policy.

And, despite recommending the ban, the organisation also restated a commitment to inclusion and recommended non-contact formats of the game.

The RFU said it will still allow trans men to play in the men’s game.

“If they provide their written consent and a risk assessment is carried out.”

Related: Brisbane Hustlers want to start Australia’s first openly gay and inclusive women’s rugby union team

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