10 October 2020

World Rugby bans trans women from elite women’s game over fears of injury

World Rugby have announced transgender women will not be able to compete at the elite or international level of the sport.

The decision, which is the first from a major governing body across all sports, was made based on ‘safety grounds’ following a ‘comprehensive, collaborative and inclusive review of existing guidelines’.

Transgender women will still be able to play rugby at the lower levels, but the sport has deemed it too much of a risk to other players for them to compete with the very best players.

"This has been a complex and emotive process, but a necessary one," chair of the review Dr Araba Chintoh told Newshub New Zealand.

"We set out to determine whether it would be possible to maintain inclusion in contact rugby based on the available research and evidence and rugby's unique context of combining strength, power, speed and endurance in a physical, collision environment.

"As we progressed through a comprehensive and inclusive review, it became clear there are compelling evidenced safety considerations which we simply cannot ignore.

"Unions will be able to exercise flexibility on a case-by-case basis at the community level of the game, for which the unions are responsible, while World Rugby will continue to prioritise inclusion strategies to ensure that the trans community remain an active, welcome and important member of the rugby family."

World Rugby boss Bill Beaumont added: "Rugby is a welcoming and inclusive sport and, while this has been a difficult decision to make, it has been taken following comprehensive consultation and engagement and for the right reasons, given the risk of injury.

"That said, we recognise that the science continues to evolve, and we are committed to regularly reviewing these guidelines, always seeking to be inclusive."

A previous report from World Rugby stated there was a ‘20-30 per cent greater risk’ that a woman could be injured from a tackle by someone who had gone through male puberty.

On the other side of the sport, transgender men will still be able to compete at the top level of men’s rugby. 

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