World Rugby, the governing body of rugby union, is set to introduce “rugby-specific” rules for transgender players which are set to run against the policies previously announced by the International Olympic Committee.
Sportspeople in the process of transitioning from male to female are required by IOC guidelines to keep their testosterone levels beneath a certain limit in order to take part in the women’s side of the sport.
However, critics of this policy have stated that certain – potentially including rugby – could present an unfair playing field with regard to the strength, power and overall fitness of individual athletes.
Addressing the growing debate, World Rugby said that they want to implement a “rugby-specific framework, prioritizing welfare, inclusion and fairness,” while also maintaining a spirit of inclusivity in the sport.
“We are committed to delivering a fit-for-purpose policy in the modern sporting and societal landscape, balancing inclusivity, while promoting fairness and welfare,” said World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont.
This comes amid a two-day symposium in London in which experts in the fields of performance, science, medicine, risk, law and ethics debated the issue of transgender athletes.
Their recommendations included a call for further investigation into the risk of injury, as well as the ethical considerations involved.
Kelly Morgan, previously Nicholas Gareth Morgan, played teenage representative rugby for East Wales as a man before transitioning to a woman later in life.
“I do feel guilty, but what can you do?” Morgan said.
“I don’t go out to hurt anybody. I just want to play rugby.”