England’s rugby leaders are set to ban transgender women from playing against female athletes in a major roundabout.
The RFU has allowed trans women to continue playing women’s rugby in 2020, arguing that more evidence is needed to implement the ban. Sun reports.
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But the English game will now move in line with World Rugby policy, with a total ban on trans women participating in women’s full contact rugby until the start of the new season.
The decision follows a lengthy review since the original decision, in which more than 11,000 responses have been received.
The RFU spokesman explained: “The audit and consultation concluded that there are physical differences between those people whose sex was determined to be male and those whose sex was female at birth.
“The benefits in strength, endurance and physique brought about by male puberty are significant and persist even after testosterone suppression.
“This science provides the basis for the recommendation that the inclusion of transgender people assigned male at birth in women’s contact rugby cannot be balanced by safety and fairness considerations.
“Until new scientific evidence becomes available, a precautionary approach should be taken to ensure fair competition and the safety of all involved.”
The new policy was recommended for approval by the RFU’s ruling council shortly after “medical, scientific and social information”.
Twickenham added: “Given the difficulty in identifying a reliable test to assess physiological variables, it is recommended that case-by-case work is no longer a viable option at this time.
“Therefore, the RFU Council will vote on a recommendation to change the contact rugby policy to allow only female players whose birth gender was female.
“In the male category, it is proposed that players whose gender at birth was female can play if they give their written consent and a risk assessment is carried out.
“This is a complex and difficult decision and the recommendation was not made lightly or without careful and comprehensive research and consultation.”
The RFU insisted that it “is committed to supporting and encouraging opportunities for all to participate in rugby, including non-contact formats of play and through coaches, referees or volunteers”.
The decision follows a recent global ban on transgender women from competing with other women in both rugby league and swimming.
RFU bosses say they have already reached out to registered trans players who will be immediately affected, “offering support in continuing to encourage them to participate in the sport.”
This article originally appeared on Sun and reproduced with permission
Originally published as England rugby chiefs to ban transgender women from playing against women in big backflip