Law change needed to keep transgender women out of women’s sport

Athletic stadium - Law change needed to keep transgender women out of women's sports

Athletic stadium – Law change needed to keep transgender women out of women’s sports

The Government is under pressure to change the law to allow UK sports bodies to exclude transgender women from women’s competition.

In a week when Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, said that “biological sex really matters”, UK Athletics still insists that they do not have the power to ban trans athletes from the female category because of the country’s current legislation.

Citing the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which states that people with gender identity certificates must be treated as female for all purposes, UK Athletics chairman Ian Beattie insisted his organisation’s hands were tied.

“It would be very difficult for us to go ahead with something where there was a legal opinion telling us to override some of the existing legislation,” Beattie said. “That would be very difficult for us.”

Although they recognize the fundamental inequity of the laws established for biological females, and despite scientific studies showing that the male advantage is maintained despite widespread cases of testosterone suppression, UK Athletics is reluctant to act.

This is indicative of the situation in World Athletics, where, despite President Sebastian Coe’s pronouncement that “biology is fighting gender”, the world body’s preferred choice was joy, where an athlete is allowed transitional to compete as long as they reduce their testosterone below. 2.5 nanomoles per liter over a period of two years. This level is still much higher than the normal female range and does not take into account literature indicating that the cardiovascular benefits of male puberty are maintained regardless of substance suppressants.

“There has certainly been correspondence with senior ministers and so on, in this area,” said Beattie. “I think at the end of the day, we really want to know who we are responsible for, and the government are the only ones who can change the legislation. So that’s where we’re going to looking to fix that focus. Certainly I think they can change the legislation. We’re sympathetic to the approach we want to take, that’s the feedback we’ve had.

“World Athletics will make rules for global competition. We all have to abide by them. Whatever comes out of that rule because, at the moment, we’re at the point where we’ve been asked to input. We’re inputting and we hope to have an impact. This is an issue specifically with British legislation. It is the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Equality Act 2010. There is no exemption to that for sporting purposes.”

Fiona McAnena, Women’s Fair director of sport, said: “It is good to see UK Athletics agree that the women’s category in sport should only be for those born female. The male advantage gained during the Puberty cancellation. We all know this.

“It is disappointing that UKA is not ready to act on this belief on legal grounds. But it is clear that not everyone agrees with their legal advice, as other sports have made the transition back to equality for women . We need leadership now so sports know they can make sport fair for women and girls.”

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