Hockey, triathlon join raft of sports reviewing transgender policy

by Reuters
Wednesday, 22 June 2022 12:07 GMT

A stick taped with a rainbow of colors sits planted upright in the snow at the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. January 26, 2018. Picture taken January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Advocates for transgender inclusion argue that not enough studies have yet been done on the impact of transition on physical performance, and that elite athletes are often physical outliers in any case

June 22 (Reuters) - The International Hockey Federation (IHF) and World Triathlon have joined a raft of governing bodies reviewing their policy on the involvement of transgender athletes in women's sport following last weekend's ruling by swimming's top body FINA.

On Sunday, FINA voted to ban anyone who has been through male puberty from elite women's competitions and to create a working group to establish an "open" category for transgender swimmers in some events as part of its new policy.

"We are conducting a review of our transgender policy and this is a current work in progress in consultation with the IOC (International Olympic Committee)," a spokesperson for the IHF told Reuters on Wednesday.

World Triathlon are working on their own guidelines which will be released after the approval of the Executive Board in November, following a review by the medical committee, women's committee and equality, diversity & inclusion commission.

"Once approved, it will be implemented at international level (World Triathlon) and also distributed to all National Federations for their implementation at a local level," a World Triathlon spokesperson said.

"We have also reached out to the transgender community to receive their feedback and inputs.

"We really hope that new guidelines will provide a fair and inclusive competition for all athletes, including transgender, cisgender and non-binary athletes."

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) is also preparing a transgender policy which will be presented at its full board meeting in November.

"Currently we are following the IOC's guidelines regarding sports where physical strength is a factor," an ICF spokesperson said.

World Athletics, soccer's governing body FIFA and World Netball are reviewing their transgender inclusion policies after FINA's verdict, the strictest by any Olympic sports body.

Rugby league banned transgender players from women's international competition until further notice on Tuesday, while the International Cycling Union (UCI) last week tightened its eligibility rules.

LGBT rights group Athlete Ally said FINA's new eligibility criteria was "discriminatory" and "harmful", while transgender cyclist Veronica Ivy described the policy as "unscientific".

Advocates for transgender inclusion argue that not enough studies have yet been done on the impact of transition on physical performance, and that elite athletes are often physical outliers in any case.

The IOC said in November that no athlete should be excluded from competition on the grounds of a perceived unfair advantage, while leaving it up to sports federations to decide where the balance between inclusion and fairness lay.

"When push comes to shove, if it's a judgement between inclusion and fairness, we will always fall down on the side of fairness — that for me is non-negotiable," World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in announcing his organisation's review.

World Rugby instituted a ban on transgender players competing at the elite level of the women's game last year, citing safety concerns.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) said on Wednesday they were undertaking a consultation over their transgender eligibility policy in the grassroots of the game and were aiming to be as inclusive as possible.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair and Aadi Nair, Writing by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Christian Radnedge)

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