UK Athletics bans transgender athletes from female competition
UK Athletics will proceed with plans to exclude athletes who have gone through male puberty from its female events from Friday but will continue to explore the creation of an open category for transgender competitors.
The governing body issued a new ‘principle statement’ setting out its approach, following on from World Athletics setting out its policy on transgender inclusion last week, which barred all male-to-female transgender athletes who have been through male puberty from female world ranking competitions from March 31.
UKA had set out its approach in February, which at the time was at odds with a World Athletics preferred option for consultation with its national federations. That document still proposed making the inclusion of transgender women in female competitions dependent on testosterone limits, rather than excluding any who had been through any part of male puberty.
UKA had been concerned in February whether its policy would be enforceable in law, but the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said transgender athletes could lawfully be excluded from female events under the ‘sporting exemption’ in the Equality Act 2010 for reasons of fair and safe competition.
UKA confirmed on Friday it had now received the required assurances from relevant bodies that the sporting exemption in the Equality Act 2010 applies to the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
World Athletics’ positioning on the matter is now also in line with UKA. The national body said in a statement it “acknowledges and appreciates the efforts made by World Athletics to protect the female category in athletics”.
UKA said it would apply the World Athletics transgender regulations to competition in the United Kingdom licensed by UKA or any of the Home Country Athletics Federations (HCAFs) from Friday, subject to transitional arrangements.
The transitional arrangements include provision for any transgender athlete who has already entered a competition or event in the category that is not their biological sex, having complied with the 2021 UKA policy which had been in effect until Friday.
Those athletes will remain eligible to compete in that event, UKA said, but may not accept any prize and their results will not count towards any record, qualifying time or mark, or team scoring.
The World Athletics regulations will not apply to local school events in England, Scotland and Wales other than Home Country National School Championships and qualifiers for those championships. In Northern Ireland, the World Athletics regulations will not apply to local school events other than the Ulster Schools Championships and its qualification events.
UKA’s position remains that “it is fair for athletes who have gone through male puberty to be excluded from the female category in athletics, that athletics should remain an inclusive sport and that it remains concerned about the ethics of coercing individuals to undergo pharmacological intervention purely for sporting purposes”.
UKA said it will work with its transgender project group and the HCAFs to develop a transgender eligibility policy for use in the UK.
“Consideration will be given to changing the current male category to an open category,” the UKA principle statement said.