World Rugby to review transgender policy

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup - World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee hold news conference ahead of knockout matches - Tokyo, Japan - October 15, 2019. World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont speaks. REUTERS/Matthew Childs

(Reuters) - World Rugby has said it will review its policies for transgender participation in women’s rugby, following a meeting of independent experts in London this week.

World Rugby currently follows the International Olympic Committee guidelines that say transgender athletes can compete in women’s events if their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first event.

But the sport’s governing body has said it recognised the importance of exploring a rugby-specific framework for all by prioritising the welfare of athletes, inclusion and fairness.

"As the first of its kind, the workshop was a giant leap forward for rugby and significant in a wider sporting context," World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement

“It’s now down to us, under the auspices of the (transgender participation) working group, to take the information forward and inform our policy-making.

“While this process will take time, we are committed to delivering a fit-for-purpose policy in the modern sporting and societal landscape, balancing inclusivity, while promoting fairness and welfare.”

The inclusion of transgender athletes in elite women’s sport has become the subject of controversy, with critics arguing that being born physically male gives an unfair physical advantage even after transition.

The multi-disciplinary working group agreed on key issues of the physiological basis of performance differences between men and women and recommended more research in the areas of injury risks, ethical considerations and performance.

“The expert opinions provided us with important guidance that will frame our decision-making regarding updated and fit-for-purpose policies,” said former Canada international Araba Chintoh, who is now a psychiatrist.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing