World Athletics bans transgender women from competing in female category at International events

European Athletics Championships Roma 2024 Reception
Lord Sebastian Coe, World Athletics President, speaks during the European Athletics Championships Roma 2024 Reception at BMW World on August 18, 2022

In a recent development, World Athletics has banned transgender women from competing in the women's division of international events. The decision was announced through a press release on March 23, 2023.

Sebastian Coe, also known as Lord Coe, the President of the International Association of Athletics Federations, stated that no transgender athlete who has gone through male puberty will be allowed to compete in women's world ranking competitions from March 31.

In a press release made by World Athletics, it was mentioned that the council has agreed to set up a working group for 12 months to further consider the issue of transgender inclusion. The details of the working group were also mentioned.

The working group will consist of an independent chair, up to three council members, two athletes from the athletes commission, a transgender athlete, three representatives of the member federations, and representatives of the World Athletics Health and Science Department.

It was also mentioned in the press release that the remit of the working group will be to consult specifically with transgender athletes to seek their opinions on competing in athletics.

The following statement attached below was stated by Lord Coe. The statement posted on the official website of World Athletics was as follows:

"Decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups, but we continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations."

Sebastian Coe continued,

"We will be guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage which will inevitably develop over the coming years. As more evidence becomes available, we will review our position, but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount."

As per the previous rules, World Athletics requires transgender women to reduce their amount of blood testosterone to a maximum of 5nmol/L. It should also stay under this threshold continuously for a range of 12 months before they can compete in the female category, according to the BBC.

In the press release, it was also stated that there are no transgender athletes competing internationally in athletics at the moment.

World Athletics announces changes in DSD rules

Apart from the announcement regarding transgender athletes, World Athletics announced changes in DSD (differences in sex development) rules. The World Athletics Council voted to reduce the amount of blood testosterone allowed for athletes with differences in sex development (DSD), according to the BBC.

As per the above-mentioned source, DSD is a group of rare conditions where a person's hormones, genes and/or reproductive organs may be a mix of male and female characteristics. As per the BBC, some of those affected prefer the term "intersex".

As per the new regulations, DSD athletes are required to reduce their testosterone levels below the limit of 2.5 nmol/L for a minimum period of 24 months. Only then can they compete internationally in the female category of any event. As per the previous regulations, DSD athletes were restricted in events ranging between 400m to one mile.

President of World Athletics Sebastian Coe looks on during the closing ceremony on day ten of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22
President of World Athletics Sebastian Coe looks on during the closing ceremony on day ten of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22

According to the press release, an interim provision will be introduced for those athletes competing in unrestricted events (distances below 400m and above one mile, plus field events). These provisions by World Athletics include a requirement to suppress their testosterone levels below 2.5 nmol/L for a minimum period of six months before they become eligible to compete again.

According to the BBC, Sebastian Coe claimed that this will impact 13 DSD athletes. Out of 13 DSD athletes, seven of them compete in running events above a mile, with six athletes competing in sprinting events below 400m.

Coe also claimed that none of the 13 athletes will now be able to compete at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest in the month of August, according to the BBC. However, these athletes will be eligible to compete in future events if they maintain their testosterone at the required level.

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Edited by Sabine Algur