UK Athletics confirms ban on trans women on Trans Day of Visibility

Athletes running a race

Trans women who have been through “male puberty” will be banned from female UK Athletics events.

Having announced its intention to exclude trans women athletes in February, UK Athletics chose Friday (31 March), which is Trans Day of Visibility, to confirm the new policy.

It had previously shared concerns around the enforceability of the policy. But on Friday, UK Athletics said it had been reassured by relevant bodies that the plans could be defended under the Equality Act’s sports exemption.

The governing body said it will consider making the men’s category an “open” one.

Since UK Athletics’ February announcement, World Athletics has also said that it will ban trans athletes who have been through “male puberty” from female events, beginning Friday.

UK Athletics will now follow World Athletics regulations for its own events, including its rules on athletes with so-called differences in sex development (DSD), who must meet strict testosterone limits.

You may like to watch

The governing body said however that it “remained concerned about the ethics of coercing individuals to undergo pharmacological intervention purely for sporting purposes”.

Multiple sporting bodies have introduced bans on trans athletes since the International Olympics Committee dropped its blanket policy.

Previously, the IOC required trans athletes in women’s categories to meet testosterone limits.

Its experts decided that testosterone was no longer the defining factor in deciding whether trans women should be permitted inclusion. But in dropped its own rules, the IOC opened the doors for bodies such as World Athletics and FINA, the swimming federation, to introduce near-total bans.

Writing for PinkNews after World Athletics announced its ban on 24 March, athlete and activist Schuyler Bailar highlighted the lack of evidence behind such policies.

“Disguising transphobia and misogyny as “protecting women and children” is an incredibly effective tactic that all but removes humanity and truth from the conversation,” he continued.

“Bans on trans women athletes do not protect anyone – instead they endanger all women and girls in the category, especially those who are already marginalized.

“Excluding trans women demands policing the entire women’s category, measuring every woman’s body against some manufactured prototype of womanhood that is deemed “woman enough” by systems of power (namely the patriarchy and white supremacy). 

“Women considered “too masculine” because of how they look or how their bodies perform are already at risk of heightened scrutiny and discrimination, and trans athlete bans only exacerbate this. Black women, in particular, are disproportionately affected due to misogynoir – think Serena WilliamsSimone Biles, Sha’Carri Richardson… the list goes on.”

Please login or register to comment on this story.