New Zealand Boxing to create ‘Open’ category for transgender athletes

You know you’ve gone as far as you can when even New Zealand deems you too progressive. New Zealand’s Boxing council recently unveiled some interesting plans.

In a statement on Tuesday morning, Boxing NZ outlined the creation of a new division after consultation with guidelines for transgender inclusion in community sport.

Boxing NZ will be creating an ‘Open’ class which will include born females who identify as male and has undertaken or is in the process of a medical transition, a person born male who identifies as female and may or may not have undertaken or is in the process of a medical transition post puberty and people who do not qualify for either the male or the female categories.

The female category, as Boxing NZ currently outlines it, are “people born female or people who identify as female who have not undergone male puberty”, giving an example of someone who has commenced transition under the age of 12 years with medical proof.

The male section on the other hand simply outlines competitors as “people born male”.

President of Boxing New Zealand Steve Hartley said their priority was the safety as per

“We wish to continue to provide an environment where people benefit from rules that allow for fair and safe competition,” Hartley said.

“There is potential for injury or worse if the margins of safety are breached. This is why boxing has sex specific, age specific and weight specific categories to maximise the inclusion of as many people as possible in this great sport, while also prioritising safe and fair competition for all.”

New Zealand’s boxing decided to take this step after reviewing the data from World Rugby Summary of transgender biology and performance research. This research outlined that male puberty was a key issue with an average 160% advantage in punching force for a male vs a female boxer.

“Allowing any male, regardless of how he identifies, to box against a female would be to actively accept that the physical safety of a female boxer is worth less than the wishes of a male boxer to be included in the sex category they identify with,” Boxing NZ said.

“We will not allow male people who have undergone puberty and who may be undertaking a medical transition to participate in the female category given the evidence around retained advantage.”

Boxing NZ added female participants in the sport “welcome the inclusion and participation of gender diverse people in boxing but have made it very clear they will not accept transgender females competing in the female category in the name of inclusion”.