Nadine Dorries to make it ‘crystal clear’ UK sports should follow FINA and restrict trans athletes

Nadine Dorries

Digital, culture, media and sport secretary Nadine Dorries will soon urge Britain’s top sporting bodies to ban or harshly restrict trans athletes.

In an opinion piece for The Mail on Sunday published Sunday (26 June), the Tory minister said she will always pick “fairness” over “inclusivity”.

And to Dorries, “fairness” is swimming’s international governing body, the International Swimming Federation (FINA), more or less making it impossible for trans athletes to compete at an elite level.

Under the body’s new guidelines, a trans woman will only be eligible to compete if they have “not experienced male puberty” before the age of 12.

This is a policy Dorries wrote she wants to see more of in British sports. She confirmed she will be meeting with Sport England and a panel of sporting leaders from football, cricket, rugby, tennis and more on 28 June.

“When I gather our own sporting governing bodies this week, I’ll be making it crystal clear that I expect them to follow suit,” she said.

Prime minister Boris Johnson (R) and culture secretary Nadine Dorries have both hit out against trans athletes. (Oli Scarff – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Dorries added: “I have the greatest compassion for anyone who finds themselves living in a body they don’t recognise. But we can’t pretend that sex doesn’t matter – that’s a scientific fact.

“Sex has biological consequences. If you’re born a male, and you go through puberty as a male, your body develops natural physical advantages over a woman’s. That makes you stronger and faster.

“I’m setting a very clear line on this: competitive women’s sport must be reserved for people born of the female sex. Not someone who was born male, took puberty blockers or has suppressed testosterone, but unequivocally and unarguably someone who was born female,” Dorries continued.

“I want all of our sporting governing bodies to follow that policy.”

Dorries, attempting to show a crumb of empathy towards trans people, said it must be “demoralising” for trans athletes “pursuing dreams of winning a medal – only to have their victory overshadowed by the predictable backlash”.

“That’s all I want: For young women and men, no matter what their personal journey, to be able to turn up on the day and feel like that maybe, just maybe, today could be the day they win that medal because everyone has a fair and equal chance.”

This does not apparently include trans men and trans women, however.

Since FINA announced its revised trans eligibility policy, several national and international sporting administrators have followed.

The International Rugby League, FIFA and World Athletics, among others, have either temporarily banned or launched reviews into their policies.

Stringent regulations introduced by the International Cycling Union (UCI) in June now make it even harder for trans cyclists to compete. National bodies such as British Triathlon and British Cycling made similar moves earlier this year.

While there is limited research when it comes to trans athletes at an elite level, researchers have previously told PinkNews that FINA’s ban is “scientific” – just not the right science for justifying a ban on trans people.

FINA’s restrictions are based on perceived differences between male and female athletes rather than between cis and trans athletes, said Joanna Harper, a Loughborough University researcher.

“It doesn’t ban anyone because no trans swimmer has swum at international levels”, Harper added. “So no one is being banned by FINA.”