Elite UK sportswomen survey finds majority uneasy with transgender athletes in female class

By Thomson Reuters Mar 25, 2024 | 10:48 PM

(Reuters) – An anonymous survey of elite British sportswomen has found more than 70% are uncomfortable with transgender athletes competing in the female class in sport, while 67% feel uncomfortable about speaking publicly on the issue.

The BBC survey was sent to 615 athletes, including “any applicable transgender athletes”, in 28 sports and 143 responses were received.

Of the athletes who responded, 104 said they felt uncomfortable or very uncomfortable about transgender athletes competing in the female class in their sport. Eleven said they felt comfortable or very comfortable.

On speaking about the subject, 96 said they felt uncomfortable or very uncomfortable addressing it in public with some elaborating to the BBC their fears of abuse or being considered discriminatory.

Global governing bodies for cricket, cycling, athletics, swimming and chess have tightened their participation rules for transgender players in elite women’s competitions over the last couple of years for reasons of fairness.

Some sporting bodies allow transgender athletes to compete in women’s sport if they can show reduced levels of testosterone, as suggested in the 2015 guidelines issued by the influential International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Critics of transgender inclusion in women’s sport say going through male puberty imbues athletes with a huge musculo-skeletal advantage that transition does not mitigate.

LGBT advocacy groups say excluding trans athletes amounts to discrimination and that not enough research has been done into the impact of transition on athletic performance.

A group of academics last week published a paper challenging the most recent IOC framework on the inclusion of transgender athletes in sport, saying it did not protect fairness for women nor align with scientific or medical evidence.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)