News (World)

British Triathlon will force trans women & non-binary athletes to compete against cis men

British Triathlon, transgender, non-binary, athletes
Photo: Shutterstock

As international sports organizations ban transgender competitors, British Triathlon has decided that the solution is rebranding: trans women and non-binary athletes who were assigned a male gender at birth will compete with cisgender men in one category labeled “Open,” while cisgender women, trans men, and non-binary people assigned female at birth will compete in the “Women” category.

British Triathlon’s new policy — which goes into effect on January 1, 2023 — will maintain this open category as separate from its female category, which only allows “those who are the female sex at birth.” The decision will affect all triathletes from England, Scotland, and Wales.

Related: Democrats introduce Transgender Bill of Rights to fight Republican anti-LGBTQ attacks

Get the Daily Brief

The news you care about, reported on by the people who care about you:

British Triathlon said it reached its decision after surveying over 3,000 group members, reviewing the latest scientific studies, and holding discussions with elite, grassroots, and transgender athletes. A reported 80 percent of the group’s members favored a women’s category “protected” from a subset of women; that is, transgender women.

“Athletes who were born male have an advantage over athletes who were born female and that their advantage is significant in swim, bike, and run,” British Triathlon’s chief executive Andy Salmon said, according to The Guardian. “And we concluded that physiology advantages are retained after testosterone suppression.”

Sports science studies on the athletic abilities of transgender athletes are a relatively new field. While some studies have suggested that puberty hormones may result in bodily changes that give increased abilities to trans women, the question continues to be actively investigated.

The organization added that it doesn’t tolerate transphobic behavior, harassment, bullying, or hate speech of any kind. It discouraged others from leaving transphobic comments about its new policy.

The new policy is likely to run into challenges.

British Triathlon says its new policy doesn’t violate the United Kingdom’s 2010 Equality Act, which forbids gender discrimination in public sports. However, the policy could face a legal challenge claiming that female trans triathletes are discriminatorily being forced to compete against mostly men even though they are women.

In June, the International Rugby League announced a temporary ban on trans women from women’s matches as it conducts research and finalizes its inclusion policy. Shortly before the IRL’s announcement, FIFA and World Athletics — the international governing body for track and field events — and FINA all announced bans on transgender athletes from women’s events.

In the United States, Republicans nationwide have authored bills that would ban transgender females from competing on girls’ and women’s teams. As of late May, 18 states have enacted laws or issued statewide rules limiting trans sports participation, The New York Times reported.

Supporters of such laws say that they protect women’s sports from being dominated by trans female athletes who have superior strength due to male hormones that change the body during puberty.

Critics of such laws point out that very few transgender athletes are actually competing in women’s sports. They all say that such bans effectively ban trans youth from playing sports altogether since they don’t want to play sports with members of the opposite gender and be targeted for bullying, adding to a stigmatizing political atmosphere that can harm trans people’s mental health and increase their suicidal ideation.

Queer state lawmaker won’t apologize for “having enough cake to twerk”

Previous article

A year after anti-LGBTQ terrorist attack, Tbilisi Pride looks ahead

Next article