World Athletics votes to EXCLUDE transgender athletes from competing against women

World Athletics  has prohibited transgender women from competing in the female category at international athletics events, including the Olympics.

The decision was made starting March 31, 2023, in order to prioritize fairness and the integrity of the female competition before inclusion. The governing body’s president, Seb Coe, also confirmed that athletes from Russia and Belarus would continue to be excluded from competition due to the war of Ukraine.

Russian and Belarusian athletes, who have been banned from competition by the World Athletics, may be allowed to compete as neutrals at Paris 2024 by the International Olympic Committee. This puts World Athletics in direct conflict with the International Olympic Committee.

Lord Coe stated that the World Athletics council took decisive action to protect the female category in sports.

He said at a press conference in Monaco that the council agreed to exclude male-to-female transgender athletes who have been through male puberty from female world ranking competitions starting March 31, 2023.

Under previous rules, transgender women could compete in the female category as long as their testosterone levels were below five nanomoles per litre over a one-year period.

In January, World Athletics announced that they wanted to tighten their policy but said their “preferred option” was only to reduce testosterone levels to 2.5 nmol/L and increase the transition period to two years.

The governing body’s decision has been met with mixed reactions. Female athletes and women’s rights campaigners who wanted a blanket ban on transgender athletes competing against other women praised the decision.

Former swimmer Sharron Davies, who has been outspoken on the issue, tweeted her appreciation for the decision, stating that it was standing up for female athletes across the world who are worthy of fair sport.

On the other hand, transgender rights activists have criticized the decision, stating that it is discriminatory and goes against their right to participate in sports. The decision has also raised concerns about the inclusion and rights of transgender people in society.

World Athletics’ decision also followed that of swimming’s world governing body, FINA, which announced a ban on transgender athletes from competing in elite women’s races last summer.

In other sports, such as cycling, transgender women can compete against other women provided they have reduced their testosterone to a specific amount. In rugby, trans women have been prevented from playing at the elite, international level of women’s rugby since 2020, and World Rugby was the first international sports body to impose such a ban.

Coe also announced stricter rules on athletes with differences in sex development (DSD). Under previous regulations, DSD athletes only faced restrictions in events ranging from 400m to a mile, but they will now be barred from all track events.

A working group will be set up to conduct further research into transgender eligibility guidelines, and World Athletics insists that they are not saying “no” forever.