Rugby Bans Transgender Athletes from Women’s Athletics

For males to take part in female sports, the doors have shut on another option.

On Tuesday, it was announced that the International Rugby League made it official:

Male-to-female (transwomen) players are not able to participate in women's International Rugby League matches.

But it's not always the ultimate decision. The law is “until further research is completed to enable the IRL to implement a formal transgender inclusion policy.”

The group plans to “review and update rules about transgender participation in women's International Rugby League.”

To arrive at the present final conclusion “several relevant developments in world sport” were examined.

Not least was the announcement by the International Olympic Committee on November 20, 2021, of their Framework for Fairness, Non-Discrimination, and Inclusion Based on Gender Identity and Sexual Variations.

The IOC has concluded that it was the duty of every sport and its ruling body to determine whether an athlete could be at a disadvantage with other athletes – considering the distinct characteristics of every sport.

As the company sees it, everyone is entitled to an additional inspection

 To prevent unneeded social, legal, and reputational risks in International Rugby League competitions, and all those who compete in them, the IRL believes that there is a need and obligation to consult with and conduct further research prior to deciding on its rules. 

It is the responsibility of the IRL to ensure that the rights of each player are balanced to play which has been a constant concept of the rugby league that has been in its foundation since it was created — against the perceived risk for other players and to ensure that everyone is given an equal opportunity to be heard.

Rugby isn't renowned for its cuddles. Male dominance in physical strength can be ugly, in fact. According to The Sunday Times in 2019, one referee who was adjudged to have a serious injury:

“Being forced to prioritize hurt feelings over broken bones exposes me to personal litigation from female players who have been damaged by players who are biologically male.”

Another person added “If you even ask the question, you are told you are a bigot.”

The former Olympian Sharron Davies was a contributor to the following:

“My daughter Grace was told that at the age of 11 that she could not play with boys since it was not safe anymore. What is the way to put this rule and…say that it's fine for a transgender person who is a biological male to play with girls, while girls who are females aren't permitted to play with boys due to the risk of harm?”

The IRL's decision is an important move follwing the International Swimming Federation (FINA)’s similar decision.

In NBC News Sunday:

World Swimming's governing body prohibited transgender athletes from participating in female events on Sunday.

FINA members in the organization's extraordinary general congress voted 71.5 percent for its updated “gender inclusion policy” that only allows swimmers who have transitioned prior to age 12 to participate in female-only events.

The IRL announced that it will “work with the eight Women's Rugby League World Cup 2021 finalists to obtain data to inform a future transwomen inclusion policy in 2023, which takes into consideration the unique characteristics of rugby league.”

Transgenderism in sports has been the subject of headlines for many years. It appears that sports are now, following numerous notable wins for males from the biological world, in an active phase. At first, and for a long time, nobody seemed to be interested in hindering social advancement. Are other leagues likely to be able to follow in the footsteps of those of the IRL as well as FINA? If yes, what about the places where biological males like Lia Thomas have triumphed, will their triumphs be remembered? There's clearly a lot left to figure out.

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