World Sailing Council approves new restrictions for trans women from 2025

The World Sailing Council has voted to introduce restrictions on trans women competing from the start of 2025.

The world governing body for sailing voted last week to adopt policies that will ban trans women from women’s events and competitions if they have gone through male puberty.

Under the new rules, trans woman who wish to compete in competitions or events can only do so if they haven’t undergone male puberty past Tanner Stage Two – which occurs at around the age of 11 or 12. 

In the UK, the use of puberty blockers has recently been restricted by the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales.

Trans sailing competitors must also be able to demonstrate testosterone levels below 2.5 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months prior to the event and continuously thereafter. 

A person holds up a sign that reads "Trans athletes belong in sports" during a demonstration
World Sailing is the latest sport’s governing body to issue new regulations for trans contestants. (Getty/Michael M Santiago)

World Sailing chief executive David Graham, who admitted he was aware “this news will disappoint some people”, said: “Sport’s understanding of this complex area of regulation continues to develop and this policy will remain under a watching brief with our medical commission.

“The priority of World Sailing in formulating this policy has been to ensure fair competition at the elite level, where no participant has an unfair or disproportionate advantage over the rest. In particular, we have to uphold fairness and integrity in the female and mixed categories of competition”. 

‘Deeply disappointed’

Trans sailor Stephanie Helms, a member of US Sailing’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee, told Outsports: “I am deeply disappointed by this decision, which adopts a stance most unsuited to a sport like sailing, that is deeply equipment-dependent and really not biased toward one sex/gender or another in terms of performance potential at any level.” 

World Sailing’s move follows other governing bodies, including World Athletics and the International Cycling Union, choosing to limit trans athletes participation in their sports. 

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