World Athletics to exclude transgender women from female events


World Athletics has decided to exclude transgender women who have gone through male puberty from female events.

The body’s president, Lord Coe, said “decisive action” had been taken to “protect the female category in our sport”.

Lord Coe told a news conference in Monaco: “The council has agreed to exclude male-to-female transgender athletes, who have been through male puberty, from female world ranking competitions from 31 March.

“In January, World Athletics said it was consulting with member federations on a proposal to change the rules on participation of transgender women in female competitions.

“The issue is thorny as sports try to strike a balance between inclusivity and making sure there is no unfair advantage.”

Lord Coe added a taskforce will be established in order to do further research in transgender eligibility guidelines, including an independent chair.

Its remit will be to “consult specifically with transgender athletes to seek views on competing in athletics” – in the hope of reviewing and potentially commissioning additional research.

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The decision to exclude transgender women was made after a consultation with a number of stakeholders including 40 member federations, athletes and coaches, together with community groups including trans organisations, UN experts, the IOC and Para Athletics, Lord Coe said.

“The majority of those consulted stated that transgender athletes should not be competing in the female category,” he said.

“Many believe there is insufficient evidence that trans women do not retain advantage over biological women, and want more evidence that any physical advantages have been ameliorated before they are willing to consider an option for inclusion into the female category.”

Caster Semenya pictured at the Athletics World Championship in July 2022 Pic: AP

Differences in Sex Development athletes

The new rules will also impact athletes with Differences in Sex Development (DSD) – a group of rare conditions involving genes, hormones and reproductive organs, which means a person’s sex development is different to others.

Some young people and adults prefer to use the term “intersex”, according to the NHS website.

Athletes with DSD include two-times Olympic 800 metre champion Caster Semenya; 2020 200m Olympic silver medallist Christine Mboma; and Francine Niyonsaba, who finished runner-up to Semenya in the 800m race at the 2016 Olympics.

The maximum amount of plasma testosterone for DSD athletes will be cut in half, Lord Coe told the conference.

Women’s 200 meters bronze medalist Christine Mboma at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham Pic: AP

The announcement comes after British Athletics called for transgender women to compete with men in an “open category” in February.

The “open” category would replace the current male category, the governing body says – as it demands a law change to preserve women’s events for those who were female at birth.

Swimming ‘s world governing body, FINA, voted to effectively ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s elite races and explore setting up an “open” category in June last year.

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