Even more sports governing bodies join FIFA and FINA in reviewing rules for trans athletes

Two netball players embrace

Three more major sports governing bodies are now reconsidering their eligibility rules for trans athletes as the debate over trans people in elite sports reaches an angry pitch.

The World Netball Federation is the latest international organiser to launch a review into how – and if at all – trans women can compete in its tournaments.

“Our medical committee are currently in the process of reviewing our transgender policy,” a spokesperson told Reuters on Tuesday (21 June).

Following the lead of international sports federations such as FIFA and the International Rugby League (IRL), now national governing bodies are eyeing up consultations as well.

The Scottish Football Association (SFA), which administers football tournaments in Scotland, has confirmed it is also reviewing its trans policy – and has been considering the change for some time, CEO Ian Maxwell told the Herald Tribune.

The SFA’s current policy says trans women are free to compete as long as their testosterone levels fall “within the range” of their affirmed gender and in line with “any anti-doping regulations”. The player must prove to SFA officials they have undergone hormone therapy and have a medical professional verify “this has minimised any gender-related advantages in competitions”.

The rule only applies to trans women over the age of 18 playing in Scottish Women’s Football competitions.

“We have an existing transgender policy which we are in the process of doing,” said Maxwell. “We have been doing that for a period of time.

Scottish football’s governing body is launching a review into trans football players. (Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images)

“Listen, it’s a very emotive and very sensitive subject. I think it is clear that a number of sporting bodies are in the process of reviewing policy and there are slightly different variations.

“FIFA are working up what they think should happen in football and we need to be aware of what that looks like and take input and guidance from that. But it is very much under review in terms of Scottish football.”

New Zealand Rugby is also set to consult with stakeholders, including players and club leaders, around its own trans eligibility policy after the International Rugby league joined World Rugby in banning trans women outright from matches.

“We want sport to be as inclusive as possible,” NZR chief executive Mark Robinson told television programme Newshub.

“There’s different possibilities here we just need to work through. We’re not going to speculate at this stage or in any way circumvent the consultation we’re about to undertake.”

From triathlon to athletics, national and international governing bodies are throwing the future of trans athletes’ into chaos as they ban them altogether or launch “reviews” into their trans eligibility rules.

While British bodies such as British Triathlon and British Cycling had already done so earlier this year, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) effectively banning trans swimmers on 19 June has prompted an avalanche of more bans and reviews.

Under FINA’s new guidelines, a trans woman would only be eligible to compete at an elite level if they have “not experienced male puberty” before the age of 12. If they have, they will likely be banished to a so-called “open” swimming category.

While the IRL, which administers rugby league matches worldwide, scrutinises its trans inclusion rules, all trans women will be barred from competing until at least the end of the year. World Athletics has signalled its intention to do the same.

Regulations introduced by the International Cycling Union (UCI) on 16 June now make it even harder for trans cyclists to compete.

Among the most stringent of any support – other than an outright ban – the new regulations double the period a trans woman must record on specified low testosterone levels from one to two years and halve the maximum permitted testosterone level.