UK culture secretary calls for ban on trans athletes in women’s sport

UK culture secretary Lucy Frazer smiling as she walks by Number 10 Downing Street.

Transgender athletes should be barred from women’s sporting competitions, culture secretary Lucy Frazer has said.

In a meeting with sporting officials across various bodies, including for cricket and football, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Lucy Frazer, called on governing bodies to take an “unambiguous position” to prevent trans athletes competing against women in elite-tier competitions.

“For years it was too loaded an issue to touch, despite the fact that it has the potential to make women’s playing fields far from level,” Frazer wrote in an article for the Daily Mail.

“Sporting bodies have a duty to women competing in sport to set out clear guidance and take an unambiguous position.”

Trans swimmer, Lia Thomas, swimming during a competition.
Trans swimmer Lia Thomas received a wave of abuse after she competed in a women’s competition in 2021. (Getty)

The Conservative MP for South East Cambridgeshire added that she believes “biology matters” in competitive sport, and that “where male strength, size and body shape give athletes an indisputable edge, this should not be ignored”.

She went on to say: “By protecting the female category, they can keep women’s competitive sport safe and fair, and encourage the young girls who dream of one day being elite sportswomen. We must get back to giving women a level playing field to compete.”

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There is not definitive evidence to suggest that trans women have a definitive biological advantage in competitive sports, in part due to the fact that they have been barred from competing in many elite events, making it difficult to collate research.

Few of the women’s leagues that do allow transgender participation have a trans woman at the top of the leader board.

Tory MP suggests ‘open’ category for trans athletes

Despite this, Frazer argued that trans people should be relegated to an “open” category which would mean “everyone can take part and nobody experiences an unfair advantage”.

Swimming’s governing body, World Aquatics, adopted such a category in 2022, as part of a policy that effectively banned trans women from elite completion.

The category was scrapped last October after no one had signed up to take part in any events. However, World Aquatics intends to “continue its work and engagement with the aquatics community” on ‘open’ category events.”

“Even if there is no current demand at the elite level, the working group is planning to look at the possibility of including open category races at masters events in the future,” a statement read.

Meanwhile, British Cycling‘s open category has been criticised.

Former cyclist Jackie Aspden said: “I have just read the proposal and am perplexed. I understand the worries of women athletes and accept the present situation until better research into the effects of hormone treatment is done.

“However, the inclusion of men into the open category is patently designed to make sure that transgender women will compete at a major disadvantage, especially if, like myself, their testosterone levels are virtually zero.”