Why is transgender-inclusion a problem in female competitive sport?

The Problem:

Women and girls are being pushed out of sports to make way for biological males who “identify as women”. A desire to be inclusive is having unintended negative consequences at all levels of female sport.

No one considered fairness and safety for women and girls or male performance advantage before new rules were brought in.

The Rules:

In 2015 the IOC changed their transgender guidelines: they now state males can be eligible for female competition if they simply lower Testosterone* to 10nmol/L for 12 months.

*Testosterone can be lowered either by removal of the testes (irreversible) or by chemical means (reversible, most common method).

The new minimum testosterone level is unfair when applied to male-born transgender athletes. The new level is at the low end for males and much higher than the average for females. It was simply copied from the IOC intersex (DSD) guidelines.

Using testosterone as the only criteria for male inclusion in female sport is unscientific. Even lowering testosterone to zero cannot ever remove the significant advantages of testosterone-driven male puberty on performance, biomechanics or muscle memory.

All International Federations, UK Sports Councils and NGBs adopted the IOC guidelines with no impact assessment on fairness, privacy or safety for women and girls.

UK equality law is clear, it is lawful to restrict participation of males (including transwomen) from female sport to keep competition fair and safe, but this rarely happens in practice.

At amateur levels hormone monitoring is not practical, sports authorities are already being pressured to introduce “sex self-identification” policies.


The consequences:

Women and girls are losing fair and meaningful competition. This affects women and girls’ rankings, scholarship opportunities and puts them off participating in sport – why try if you can’t win?

Increasingly, men and boys simply “self-identify” into female sports without lowering testosterone e.g. the Canada Winter Games accepts anyone who says they are female into women-only categories, and 17 US states already allow boys who identify as girls to compete in high school competitions.

Women and girls are sustaining injuries in contact sports. (e.g. Australian Rules Football and Mixed Martial Arts).

Female athletes who raise fairness concerns are condemned as transphobic. This stifles the calm and rational discussion needed to find a resolution. Martina Navratilova was removed from an LGBT advisory board after speaking out, despite her huge contribution to LGBT acceptance in sport. Athletes are fearful of losing team sponsorship and experiencing disruptive protests at competitions. Scientists are vetoed from giving expert opinion in mainstream media.


How can you help?

Fair Play For Women is a grassroots campaign group raising public awareness by providing objective, evidence-based discussion on behalf of female athletes and sports professionals.

We would like help to contact sports national governing bodies (NGBs) to ask them to review their policies to ensure that fairness and safeguarding are properly taken into account, as the law requires them to do.

Guide to contact Sports NGBs

We are also building  a confidential network of sports women and men, coaches and sports scientists to to share contacts, advice and ideas.  Please help us connect with more people in the sporting community by sending them a copy of our sports fact sheet.

Click for Sport Factsheet








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