British Rowing has announced a new policy that bars transgender athletes from participating in elite women’s races, though the organization has provided three categories allowing transgender involvement.
The policy, set to be enforced on September 11, dictates that only athletes “assigned female at birth” can compete in women’s events and represent Britain or England in international arenas. In addition to the women’s category, an “open” category is available for all athletes, while a “mixed” category can be set up by organizers, provided 50 percent of the crew are from the women’s category.
Transgender rights in sports have sparked heated debates recently. While LGBTQ advocacy groups label the exclusion of transgender athletes as discrimination, critics argue that male puberty can confer an advantage on these athletes in women’s sports.
British Rowing defended its decision by stating that it aims to “promote an environment in which rowing is accessible and inclusive” and provide “fair and meaningful competition. However, it is important to note that World Rowing allows transgender athletes to compete in female categories if their testosterone levels are below five nanomoles per liter for 12 months.
Other global federations including World Athletics, World Aquatics, and cycling’s UCI have tightened their participation rules recently. Soccer’s governing body, FIFA, is also reviewing its transgender eligibility policies.