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Rugby league bans transgender women from international competition

Transgender rugby league players will not be allowed to compete in international women’s rugby league matches, this is what the sport’s global governing body announced.

The International Rugby League (IRL), in a statement, stated that it will continue to do research before finalising its rules. It also said that the end-of year event would be used to help create a “transwomen inclusion” policy for the future.

According to the IRL, its decision was influenced “by several relevant developments in world sports”, including a conclusion by the International Olympic Committee that each sport had to consider “how an athlete might be at a disproportionate disadvantage compared to their peers”.

The IRL stated that male-to-female and transwomen players cannot participate in sanctioned international rugby league matches until further research has been completed.


The IRL added that they will continue to work to develop a set criteria based on the best evidence to balance the individual’s rights to play with safety for all participants.

“The IRL will work with the eight Women’s Rugby League World Cup 2021 finalists in order to collect data for a future transwomen inclusion strategy in 2023 that takes into account the unique characteristics and rugby league.

It follows FINA’s vote to ban transgender swimmers if they had gone through male puberty.

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Lord Coe, president of World Athletics, suggested that track and field might follow swimming in banning transgender athletes out of elite competition.

Transgender rights have become a hot topic in sport. Organisers are trying to balance inclusion and ensure there is no unfair advantage.

FINA stated that it will explore the possibility of creating an “open” category of transgender competitors in certain events. This would require competitors to have completed their transition before they can compete in women’s races.

Reality TV Star and Former Olympian Caitlyn Jeanner, 72, supported the restrictions, tweeting: “What’s fair? You shouldn’t be allowed to receive medals from women if you are in male puberty. Period.”

Lord Coe, who was in Budapest for the World Swimming Championships weekend, suggested that athletics might change its rules about transgender athletes.

He stated, “My responsibility is protect the integrity women’s sport, and we take it very seriously. If that means we have to adjust protocols going forward, then we will.”

“I have always stated that fairness is my side if ever we are forced into a corner and made a judgement about fairness or inclusion.

“We see an internationally federated body asserting its supremacy in setting rules, regulations, and policies that are best for its sport. This is the right thing. We believe, and have repeated, that biology is more important than gender. Therefore, we will continue reviewing our regulations to reflect this belief.”

When asked if World Athletics would adopt the same policy that FINA, he replied: “We have always maintained that our regulations in this area were a living document, specific for our sport, and we will follow science.”

“We continue to research, study and contribute to the growing body evidence that testosterone is a key determiner of performance. We have scheduled a discussion about our DSD regulations and transgender regulations at the end of this year with our council.”


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