'If nobody speaks out about transgender athletes, women like me are screwed'

Amelia Strickler - British shot put champion criticises plans to allow trans women to compete in female category - Getty Images/Alex Pantling
Amelia Strickler - British shot put champion criticises plans to allow trans women to compete in female category - Getty Images/Alex Pantling

A British shot put champion has heavily criticised leaked plans to allow transgender women to compete in the female category in international track and field, saying it could lead to a "free-for-all" which would "screw" biological women like her.

Amelia Strickler, who has twice won the British national title and is targeting Paris 2024, added that the "overwhelming majority" of her fellow athletes thought the same but were "afraid to speak out" for fear of losing sponsors or becoming a target for social media abuse.

Strickler, 28, was reacting to Telegraph Sport’s revelation this week that World Athletics has secretly consulted its member federations over a proposed rule change that would stop short of an outright ban.

Documents seen by Telegraph Sport show the governing body's "preferred option" would instead halve the maximum permitted plasma testosterone for trans women to 2.5 nanomoles (nM/l) per litre and double the period they must remain below that threshold before being allowed to compete to two years. A final decision is expected in March.

Strickler insists that no amount of hormone suppression treatment can cancel out the retained advantages of male puberty, particularly in a power-based sport such as the shot put.

'If this happens, I wouldn't be surprised if lots of records fall'

"It’s all well and good that they [World Athletics] are putting restrictions in on the testosterone levels, and extending the number of years to qualify and so on… but none of that matters," said the Ohio-born athlete. "They’d still be miles ahead.

"I mean, the women’s shot is half the weight [of the men’s]. Apart from all the strength they’ve gained over the years, there is the height advantage, the wingspan, all the things hormones can’t replace… hip angles, lung capacity etc. Training would be easier for them. That’s just a fact.

"If this happens I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a lot of world records fall to trans athletes."

Amelia Strickler - British shot put champion criticises plans to allow trans women to compete in female category - Getty Images/Cameron Spencer
Amelia Strickler - British shot put champion criticises plans to allow trans women to compete in female category - Getty Images/Cameron Spencer

Strickler added: "I am genuinely worried. This is my career. If it comes into effect in March, then by March 2025 that could be me retiring."

Those in favour of allowing trans women to compete in women’s sport argue that the number of those trying to do so is paltry, and even fewer make it to the elite level. But Strickler said she feared the new guidelines could "open the floodgates".

"I really think it could," she said. "Basically all governing bodies right now are under pressure to issue guidelines. We've basically been waiting for it. The fact that World Athletics, one of the biggest, has not [put] its foot down, I think it is really, really upsetting. I think these rules really could open the floodgates.

"There will be a lot, I think, who say ‘Well, I've waited. I'm ready to compete. What do I have to do?’ And you know, women will be out of a job. Even if there are only a handful, do you put the feelings of a few above an entire sex?"

Lord Coe, World Athletics president, said last autumn that his organisation would "follow the science" in framing new guidelines. But Strickler said that trans women competing in women's events was a "joke" within the sport.

'It's almost like it's a taboo subject on the circuit'

"I haven’t come across anyone who is like 'Oh, it will be fine.' Even the guys are like 'Yeah, you’re screwed'. There are jokes made [in training] like 'Oh yeah, I feel like being a woman today.'"

Some of Strickler's fellow GB athletes such as Emily Diamond and Ellie Baker have expressed concerns in the past, but Strickler thinks most are worried about putting their heads above the parapet.

"I think people are afraid because they’ve got contracts, or central funding," she said. "I’ve certainly tried to get them to talk. It’s almost like a taboo subject on the circuit, even though everyone is privately like 'It's ridiculous'.

"But I’m not on funding. And I don't have any sponsors that I'm contracted to. So I'm not fussed. If I get social media backlash I don't really care. If no one says anything, we're all screwed."

Strickler added: "I've got no problem with trans women competing in a different category. Sport should be for everyone. This is about protecting women at the end of the day. I hope more of us band together to prevent this because it’s going to be the end."