Transgender women banned from rugby in England after two-year review

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Transgender women are set to be banned from female competition in another sport – this time it's rugby.

Following a two-year review, the RFU (England's Rugby Football Union) Council will now follow the recommendation that anyone whose sex was assigned as male at birth, will be prohibited from participating in girl's or women's rugby, although a vote on transgender participation will take place next week.

That coincides with guidelines set by World Rugby and they follow in the footsteps of international swimming federation, Fina, who banned transgender athletes from the sport.

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The announcement came following recommendations from the RFU, which initially allowed some transgender women to play women's rugby, but they have had to apply on a case-by-case basis. The World Rugby rules state: "Transgender women may not currently play women's rugby… because of the size, force and power-producing advantages conferred by testosterone during puberty and adolescence, and the resultant player welfare risks this creates."

The RFU said that it "has contacted registered trans female players, on whom the policy will have a direct impact to offer its support in continuing to encourage them to participate in the sport". The recommendations add: "In the male category it is proposed that players whose sex recorded at birth is female may play if they provide their written consent and a risk assessment is carried out."

The peer-reviewed research provides evidence there are physical differences between people whose sex was assigned as male and those as female at birth. "This science provides the basis of the recommendation that the inclusion of trans people assigned male at birth in female contact rugby cannot be balanced against considerations of safety and fairness," the RFU said in a statement.

"The recommendation is that until such time as new science is available, a precautionary approach is appropriate to ensure fair competition and safety of all competitors.

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"The RFU Council have been provided with access to medical, scientific and social information so that it can consider this recommendation and the merits of any alternative approaches, including a case by case approval process."

Confirming the vote will take place, the statement also read: "The RFU council will vote on a recommendation for a policy change for contact rugby to only permit players in the female category whose sex recorded at birth was female.

"This is a complex and difficult decision and the recommendation has not been made lightly or without thorough and full research and consultation.

"The RFU has contacted registered trans female players, on whom the policy will have a direct impact to offer its support in continuing to encourage them to participate in the sport."


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