British rowing to restrict women’s events to biologically female athletes

British Rowing is poised to make a significant change to its transgender policy, as it prepares to announce that the women’s category in rowing competitions will be exclusively reserved for individuals who were born biologically female.

The move comes after extensive deliberations at the board level, with the majority view of the organization’s 31,500 members favoring a policy shift to uphold the fairness and integrity of women’s events.

Previously, transgender athletes could participate in elite women’s rowing races in the UK if their testosterone levels remained below five nanomoles per litre, even though the typical range for women is between 0.5 and 2.4. However, the revised rules will now protect these events for rowers who are biologically female, marking a departure from the previous guidelines.

Unlike other major Olympic sports in Britain, such as athletics, swimming, and cycling, which have already banned biological males from competing in women’s events, rowing has been grappling with the issue of transgender inclusion until now. This policy change follows mounting pressure on British Rowing to address concerns about the potential physiological advantages that male athletes might have in women’s races.

British Rowing Chairman Mark Davies initially advocated for an open category for transgender rowers. However, a divide existed within the board, with differing opinions on the approach. Eventually, the organization allowed its members to express their preference for the transgender policy, with a significant majority reportedly supporting the decision to prioritize fairness for biological female athletes.

This decision aligns with the perspective of Dr. Mary O’Connor, a former US Olympic rower, who has called for leadership in ensuring the integrity of women’s sports. Dr. O’Connor stated, “There is no place for males in women’s sports,” emphasizing the foundational importance of fair competition.

This policy change is likely to put an end to the debate surrounding transgender inclusion in women’s rowing events in the UK. As the final details are awaited, British Rowing joins the ranks of sports organizations globally that are striving to strike a balance between inclusion and maintaining a level playing field for all athletes.