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Transgender women will be barred from sanctioned women’s international rugby league matches “until further research is completed to enable the IRL to implement a formal transgender inclusion policy,” the International Rugby League (IRL) said in a statement.
The IRL’s statement on transgender participation came after FINA, the international governing body on elite swimming, said it will only permit swimmers who transitioned before the age of 12 to compete in women’s events. FINA members voted 71.5% in favor of the new policies.
The IRL cited the International Olympic Committee’s 2021 publication “Framework on Fairness, Non-Discrimination and Inclusion on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations” in its decision-making.
“The IOC concluded that it is the remit of each sport and its governing body to determine how an athlete may be at a disproportionate advantage compared with their peers — taking into consideration the differing nature of each sport,” the league said.
“In the interests of avoiding unnecessary welfare, legal and reputational risk to International Rugby League competitions, and those competing therein, the IRL believes there is a requirement and responsibility to further consult and complete additional research before finalizing its policy.”
The IRL said it would continue to work on developing a policy that will be fair to everybody.
“To help achieve this, the IRL will seek to work with the eight Women’s Rugby League World Cup 2021 finalists to obtain data to inform a future transwomen inclusion policy in 2023, which takes into consideration the unique characteristics of rugby league,” the IRL said.
FINA’s announcement came Sunday.
There was also a proposal for a new “open competition policy.” The organization said it was setting up “a new working group that will spend the next six months looking at the most effective ways to set up this new category.”
In the 24-page policy released Sunday, FINA said transgender women and athletes whose legal gender and/or gender identity is female can compete in FINA-sanctioned events if “they can establish to FINA’s comfortable satisfaction that they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.”
The athlete must produce evidence they have “complete androgen insensitivity and therefore could not experience male puberty” or “they are androgen sensitive but had male puberty suppressed beginning at Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later, and they have since continuously maintained their testosterone levels in serum (or plasma) below 2.5 nmol/L,” or “an unintentional deviation from the below 2.5 nmol/L requirement may result in retrospective disqualification of results and/or a prospective period of ineligibility, or “an intentional deviation from the below 2.5 nmol/L requirement may result in retrospective disqualification of results and a prospective period of ineligibility equal or commensurate in length to periods imposed under the FINA DRC for intentional anti-doping rule violations involving anabolic steroids.”
Transgender athletes who do not meet the eligibility standards may compete in “any open events” the organization could develop in the future.