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Sports Adapt Policies for Trans Athletes

Sports Adapt Policies for Trans Athletes
Image Credit: Maja Smiejkowska/Reuters

World sports associations are coming to terms with the impracticality of their policies regarding transgender athletes. The focus on fairness for women in sports cannot be achieved merely by reducing testosterone levels in male competitors. In recent cases, male athletes have disrupted female competitions, prompting sports-governing bodies to address the absurdity of their approach.

Instances like Lia Thomas, who outperformed in NCAA women’s swim championships, and the international stage’s Austin Killips are highlighting the need for change. In the UK, British Cycling and the Union Cycliste Internationale have implemented policies differentiating female and male categories. World Athletics has also enforced stricter rules for male participation in female track-and-field events.

The International Olympic Committee’s leadership in this matter has been questionable. An independent sports consultation in 2021 suggested that trans inclusion and fairness for women often cannot coexist. Sports associations are now using these recommendations to reevaluate their policies.

British Rowing has recently banned male athletes from female-only competitions, aligning with the majority view of its members. The shift towards “men/open” categories is gaining traction in Europe, emphasizing fairness while acknowledging the identities of trans athletes.

However, the United States is lagging behind in implementing these changes. By adopting “men/open” categories, U.S. sports associations could balance inclusivity with the preservation of fair competition for female athletes.
Re-reported from the article originally published in National Review