World Athletics will ban transgender women from its events if they have gone through male puberty after an announcement today.
There are also new restrictions on athletes with innate variations in sex characteristics (who sometimes use the term ‘intersex’).
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said the decision was “difficult” but would ensure “fairness”.
Transgender women who have been through male puberty will be excluded from female events as of next week. World Athletics says there are currently no transgender athletes competing in athletics at the international level.
Athletes with innate variations in sex characteristics who wish to compete in any female event will need to reduce their testosterone below a specified level for two years, or six months in the case of current athletes.
World Athletics Chair Sebastian Coe said “decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups, but we continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations”.
World Athletics says it has “years of research and evidence” documenting the physical advantages of athletes with innate variations in sex characteristics. It acknowledges there is no “athletics-specific evidence” of advantages for trans athletes but wanted to “prioritise fairness… before inclusion”.
The World Athletics decision follows a similar move last year to exclude transgender women who have gone through male puberty from competing in swimming events.
The world swimming body, FINA, cited evidence suggesting these athletes maintained physical advantages even after they had taken steps to suppress testosterone levels.
World Rugby became the first sport to introduce a worldwide ban on transgender women participating in elite events in 2020.
The move has been criticised by some LGBTQI+ activists and allies.
Stonewall, a prominent UK-based LGBTQI+ advocacy organisation, called it “so disappointing… their own statement recognises that there are no trans women competing at an international level and that they have no specific evidence to justify the ban.”