The controversy over male-to-female trans athletes competing against “biological women” was reignited by American swimmer Lia Thomas’ success at the NCAA championships.
Thomas, who is transitioning from male to female and after three years competing against males with females, made history by becoming the first transgender person to win an NCAA Division I title.
Many international federations and national governing bodies are reviewing their transgender policies as part of the relevant guidance issued by the International Olympic Committee and Sport England last year, but the current picture is as follows:
Fifa has “gender verification” regulations from 2011, but they make no mention of trans women. The regulations have been under review since the end of 2020. In order to play in English football, according to the Football Association’s transgender policy, a trans woman must have “blood testosterone in the female birth zone for a reasonable time to minimize any potential benefit”. The policy does not specify what this area is.
The sport was the first last year to ban trans women from playing at the elite women’s level “due to the size, the strength and power-producing benefits that testosterone confers during puberty and adolescence, and the resulting risks to the well-being of the Player”. The Rugby Football Union is currently reviewing its own grassroots rugby policy, which will allow trans women to play if they have reduced their testosterone levels to 5 nmol/L a year earlier. In 2019, the teammate of a transgender Welsh player joked about folding an opponent “like a deckchair”.
The rules allowing anyone who self-identifies as a woman to freely enter England’s national women’s competitions are currently under review. That could affect the likes of Maxine Blythin, who made her Kent debut in 2019 and was her top run scorer in this year’s Women’s Twenty20 Cup. A trans woman can only play internationally if she has previously reduced her testosterone level to 10nmol/L for a year.
Tennis is no stranger to the trans women debate, having played professionally in the 1970s and winning a landmark legal battle to be allowed to play at the US Open. So it’s a surprise that the current rules of the sport are such a mess. The International Tennis Federation – and presumably the four Grand Slams – have set a 5 nmol/L limit for testosterone levels in trans women wanting to compete in events it monitors, including the Olympics. But under the current rules of the Women’s Tennis Association, that number is doubled.
LPGA players voted back in 2010 to remove the Tour’s requirement that players be “female at birth” and allow transgender athletes to compete. That was less than two months after a trans woman sued the tour, arguing that the rule violated California civil rights law. The LPGA does not appear to have any publicly available rules for the participation of such players. The International Golf Federation has followed IOC guidelines, while England Golf has its own rules that suggest testosterone limits should be between 0 and 3 nmol/L.
Athletics was among the first sports to impose a testosterone limit of 5 nmol/L on trans women who wanted to compete. American hurdler Cece Telfer broke strict rules when she was banned from participating in the US Olympic trials ahead of last year’s Tokyo Games. World Athletics faced greater opposition because of similar rules for athletes with Sexual Development Differences (DSD), who were assigned their female gender from birth. These rules currently only apply to course events between 400 meters and one mile following a legal challenge.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/2022/03/22/transgender-athletes-womens-competition-sport-by-sport-guide/ A sport-by-sport guide to rules and regulations