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World Rugby could ban transgender women over safety concerns

July 21, 2020

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World Rugby could ban transgender women over safety concerns

World Rugby is considering becoming the first international federation to ban transgender female athletes from competing over safety concerns.

The Guardian exclusively revealed that World Rugby’s working group into a specific policy had acknowledged that there would be “at least a 20-30% greater risk” of injury if a cisgender player were to be tackled by a transgender athlete, with the groups document also saying that transgender athletes still maintain “significant” physical advantages over cisgender athletes even after taking medication to lower their testosterone.

World Rugby’s current rules allow transgender players to play women’s rugby if they lower their testosterone levels for at least 12 months but the working group says that these are “not fit for purpose” and that transgender players should be banned from playing against their cisgender counterparts.

Leading scientists, legal and medical experts were involved in the working group, with representatives of both cisgender and transgender players invited to establish a policy which considers player welfare and inclusivity. Some of the group have welcomed the ban as the safety of players is being provided with the upmost consideration, whilst others believe that an outright ban is not the correct course of action.

The proposal states that transgender men can compete against cisgender males provided that they sign a consent form in which they accept that they will be at greater risk of injury. Unions will vote on the proposals when the World Rugby Council meets in November however, the draft document acknowledges that the working group will consider its position if the scientific evidence changes. 

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