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World Athletics Council restricts male-to-female transgender athletes

230th World Athletics Council press conference: Thursday 23rd March 2023 | World Athletics

MONACO—In a move that its President, Sebastian Coe, said “is a decisive move to protect the female category,” the World Athletics Council announced on March 23, 2023, it will exclude male-to-female transgender athletes who have been through male puberty from female World Rankings competition, effective March 31, 2023.

World Athletics, formerly known as the “‘International Association of Athletics Federations” (or IAAF) is the world governing authority on competitions, standardization of technical equipment, and the official repository of all world records. The governing body was founded on July 17, 1912, in Stockholm, Sweden, following the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games.

“Decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups, but we continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations,” World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said. “We will be guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage which will inevitably develop over the coming years. As more evidence becomes available, we will review our position, but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount.”

The World Athletics came to this descision after a two-month long consultation period this year with various stakeholders including Member Federations, the Global Athletics Coaches Academy and Athletes’ Commission, the IOC as well as representative transgender and human rights groups.

The Council cited that more than ten years of research and evidence shows athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD) have physical advantages in the female category.

“In these circumstances, the Council decided to prioritize fairness and the integrity of the female competition before inclusion” the press release states.

World Athletics defines DSD as those individuals being assigned at birth a legal sex of female and/or having a female gender identity, notwithstanding that the individual has fully functioning (internal) testes rather than ovarie or viceversa. In otherwords, these are individuals that have congenital conditions at birth that cause atypical sex development.

The Council will be establishing a Working Group to further consider the issue of transgender inclusion over the next year. The Working Group will include an independent chair, up to three Council Members, two athletes from the Athletes’ Commission, a transgender athlete, three representatives of the Member Federations and representatives of the World Athletics Health and Science Department.


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