These sports all now ban trans athletes from women’s competition at elite level

World Netball recently released its updated policy on “participation and inclusion”, banning trans women from national and international competition – but it’s not the only sport the announce a ban on trans athletes in recent months.

World Netball’s updated policy followed a review into how and if trans athletes could compete in its tournaments. Following the review, the body ruled that trans athletes are banned from participating in international level women’s netball competitions. 

In March 2024, Labour leader Keir Starmer said he supports a ban on trans women competing in women’s sports.

On Tuesday (16 April), culture secretary Lucy Frazer also said trans athletes should be barred from women’s sporting competitions. 

World Netball joins other sporting groups including athletics, rowing, cycling and swimming in banning trans women from international competitions.

The bans have been implemented despite there being no definitive evidence to suggest that trans women have a definitive biological advantage in competitive sports. 

Swimming 

Swimming’s world governing body, the International Swimming Federation (FINA), voted on 19 June, 2022 to adopt a new policy ruling out most, if not all trans, women from competing in women’s competitions.

The policy dictates that trans women who wish to compete must “have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond tanner stage two, or before age 12, whichever is later”. Tanner stage two is the second of the five puberty stages and refers to the stage where physical developments begin including height increases and the development of pubic and body hair.

The FINA policy states that trans women are free to compete in an unspecified ‘open’ category.

In 2023, Swim England also updated its policy on trans and non-binary athletes, effectively forcing trans swimmers out of the “female” category and into an “open” one in competitive events.

Athletics

In 2023, UK Athletics chose 31 March, which is Trans Day of Visibility, to confirm that its new policy would see trans women who have been through “male puberty” banned from its female events.

World Athletics announced that it would ban trans women who have been through puberty from female competitions in March that year.

British Cycling 

In May 2023, British Cycling banned trans women from competing in its female category and announced the introduction of an ‘open’ category. 

British Cycling’s policy sees the ‘female’ category reserved only for females whose sex was assigned female at birth and transgender men who have not yet begun hormone therapy. 

People who were assigned female at birth but are not trans men will also be able to compete in the ‘open’ category, should they want to. 

England Ladies angling

In November 2023, recreational fishing’s governing body said its latest trans participation policy would ban trans anglers from competing for England in the women’s category. 

The updated policy allows trans women to compete in the open category in both domestic and international events.

The ban followed three members of the England ladies shore fishing team resigning after they refused to compete alongside trans teammate Becky Lee Birtwhistle Hodges. 

British Rowing 

In 2023, British Rowing banned trans women from competing in its female category.

The sport’s governing body announced that only athletes who were “assigned female at birth” would be allowed to enter female races at the elite level.

Badminton England 

Trans and non-binary badminton players were also excluded from women’s badminton competitions under issued rules in 2023. 

The governing body cited the 2010 Equality Act in its reasoning for the change, saying: “Such prohibition or restrictions can only be made in order to secure fair competition or the safety of competitors at events.”  

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