NEW Fox News articles can now be heard on audio! Read this article. 0:00 / 3:25 BeyondWords In England, transgender athletes are not allowed to play women’s union or league rugby. Only players assigned as female at birth are allowed to participate in women’s matches, under an amendment to the rules made by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Rugby Football League (RFL).
Six transgender women who have registered to play in England will be subject to the new guidelines.
The RFU Council decided with 33 in favor, 26 against, and 2 abstentions to update its gender participation policy for the 2022–2023 season.
The council said in a statement said on Friday, “It was a complex and difficult choice, and the policy change was not done lightly or without careful and complete analysis and consultation.”
After a two-year review, the governing body decided to amend its prior stance and outlaw transgender women from playing women’s rugby in England. The RFU promised transgender women that they will be included in rugby in 2019 and released rules that all transgender players had to follow before they could play the sport.
“The RFU Council has determined that a precautionary approach is appropriate to safeguard fair competition and the safety of all competitors until new more peer-reviewed science is available,” it stated.
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Before voting on the policy, it performed a thorough consultation, examined the scientific data, and requested advice from other athletic groups due to concerns about safety and fairness.
The RFU stated that there are physical differences between people whose sex was initially recorded as male and those whose sex was initially recorded as female at birth. Additionally, advantages in strength, stamina, and physique brought about by testosterone and male puberty are significant and retained even after testosterone suppression.
The new gender participation policy, which will go into force next month and be evaluated in November 2024, was also accepted by the RFL board.
According to the RFL, “there will be a female-only category for all contact Rugby League from Under-12s and above, in which players will only be permitted to play in the gender category of the sex that was originally reported at birth.” Non-contact Rugby League and Wheelchair Rugby League continue to be open to all including mixed-gender without any eligibility requirements based on gender.
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Last year, World Rugby forbade transgender athletes from participating in the women’s elite competition due to safety reasons.
Following the decision by the international swimming authority FINA to bar anyone who has experienced male puberty from elite women’s contests, a number of sports federations, including World Athletics and FIFA, are revisiting their policies regarding the participation of transgender athletes.
Many people will be unhappy by the choice, but it was “based on all the scientific facts available,” according to RFU President Jeff Blackett.