World Rugby reveals new transgender guidelines

12 Oct 2020

By: Sport Industry Group

World Rugby has approved updated guidelines to transgender participation following an extensive review, with the included recommendation that transwoman do not play women’s contact rugby on safety grounds at an international level.

According to the statement: “As with many other sports, the physiological differences between males and females necessitate dedicated men’s and women’s contact rugby categories for safety and performance reasons.

“Given the best available evidence for the effects of testosterone reduction on these physical attributes for transgender women, it was concluded that safety and fairness cannot presently be assured for women competing against transwomen in contact rugby. 

As a result, the new guidelines do not recommend that transwomen play women’s contact rugby on safety grounds at the international level of the game where size, strength, power and speed are crucial for both risk and performance.”

World Rugby does state that it will not ‘preclude national unions from flexibility in their application of the guidelines at the domestic/community level of the game,’ and confirms that transmen are still permitted to participate in men’s contact rugby.

The review undertook three phases, which began with a workshop of subject area experts, including members of the transgender community, followed by a comprehensive review of all learnings, before a consultation process of the rugby community.

The entire process was chaired independently by Dr Araba Chintoh, who said: "This has been a complex and emotive process, but a necessary one.

“We set out to determine whether it would be possible to maintain inclusion in contact rugby based on the available research and evidence and rugby’s unique context of combining strength, power, speed and endurance in a physical, collision environment.

“As we progressed through a comprehensive and inclusive review, it became clear that there are compelling evidenced safety considerations which we simply cannot ignore.”

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont added: “Rugby is a welcoming and inclusive sport and, while this has been a difficult decision to make, it has been taken following comprehensive consultation and engagement and for the right reasons, given the risk of injury.

“That said, we recognise that the science continues to evolve, and we are committed to regularly reviewing these guidelines, always seeking to be inclusive.”

The news comes as British Cycling announced its own transgender guidelines, covered in the third bullet of today's Industry Shorts.