British Triathlon creates a new ‘open’ category for trans athletes

Athletes from the 2012 Olympic Women’s Triathlon compete in London – Photo: David Hawgood.

British Triathlon has published updated rules which create a new ‘open’ category for transgender athletes as part of a ban campaign trans women to compete against cisgender women.

The news of the federation Politics require that “all individuals, including men, transgender people and non-binary people who were male at birth,” be placed in an “open” category, separate from those identified as female at birth.

With the creation of the “open” category, only athletes who were designated female at birth will be allowed to compete in international events designated for women.

The policy does not mention which category a trans man assigned to female at birth should compete in, although he would presumably be relegated to the “open” category if he takes testosterone to transition – which could be considered an unfair advantage.

The new policy comes into effect on 1 January 2023 and applies to all races held in the UK.

In a statement, the British Triathlon explained that the policy is an attempt to make the sport more inclusive – allowing transgender women and non-binary athletes assigned male at birth to compete, while ensuring that they do not unfairly benefit from the physical advantages they hold over cisgender women. competitors.

British Triathlon has reviewed its transgender policy after a period of consultation to ensure it reflects the needs of our sport, protects fairness in competition and serves our desire to make triathlon truly inclusive,” the federation said.

Britain’s triathlon governing body has said it consulted more than 3,000 participants, form focus groups and conduct interviews before deciding to establish the policy. Only 16 of more than 3,000 identified as transgender.

“We started this process at the end of 2021 and went through a period of independent consultation earlier this year to explore options for categorization into triathlon competition in Britain,” the federation continued in its statement. “This helped to ensure that, alongside the latest research, we heard from our community, key groups and individuals to share their views and experiences with us.”

It is the first time that a sports governing body in the UK has created an “open” category that includes transgender and non-binary people.

British Triathlon chief executive Andy Salmon explained that the sport is “affected by gender” and that “fairness is paramount” where there is “competitive activity”, according to the BBC.

“We believe this is the right policy for triathlon in Britain and the right time to publish it,” Salmon said. “We have taken legal advice and are confident that it is legally sound.”

Salmon said the British Triathlon board did not know of any “elite” trans female athletes, but did not want to wait until “it was a problem” before “trying to solve it”.

The new policy replaces the 2018 policy that allowed all women, regardless of gender identity, to compete in the same category, as long as trans women’s blood testosterone levels fell below a specific level. .

Amy Gadd, a triathlete who is director of operations and direct service delivery at Mermaids, a UK-based transgender charity and advocacy organization, said PinkNews that British Triathlon’s new trans policy was devastating.

“As a trans woman who has competed in triathlons since 2016, I am extremely disappointed to be excluded from the women’s category,” Gadd said.

Gadd, who has participated in seven years of triathlons, recently shared how the races have helped his mental health in a article for the British triathlon during LGBTQ History Month in the UK in February. Now she feels that sport hurts more than it helps.

“It only serves to separate women and girls, which is not good for anyone. Now I have to decide if I want to participate in a sport that doesn’t recognize me as a woman,” Gadd said.

The new British triathlon policy follows a similar decision by FINA, the international governing body for water sports. FINA recently adopted a new policy that effectively prohibits most, if not all, transgender women to participate in women’s events based on their male puberty. FINA has set up a task force to create an “open” category that would allow transgender athletes to compete in the future, but has yet to do so.

Pro-LGBTQ+ group Athlete Ally denounced FINA’s policy as “deeply discriminatory, harmful” and “unscientific”.

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