Just 18 months after transgender athletes competed for the first time at the Olympics, international sporting federations are reconsidering whether transgender women should be allowed to keep participating in elite women’s competitions, as debate rages in sports and politics circles over who has the right to play.
Some sports organizations introduced bans this week, citing a need to ensure fairness in women’s competition — even though experts say the science is far from decisive on whether athletes who have transitioned from male to female have any competitive advantage over their cisgender female competitors.
The International Swimming Federation (FINA) will now only allow transgender women who began transitioning before the age of 12 to compete in high-level international competitions, including swimming, diving and water polo. FINA’s rule also affects athletes with a condition known as 46 XY DSD (also referred to as intersex), who have genitalia that is not clearly male or female, but who identify as female.
A day after FINA’s rule came into effect, the International Rugby League went even further, banning all transgender women from international matches while it reviews and updates its rules on participation. A spokesperson told CBC News there are no transgender players at the international level.
World Athletics, which oversees track and field, race walking and other athletics events, has hinted it may follow suit when it reviews its own rules later this year.
“If there is a conflict between fairness and inclusion in the female category, we will always choose fairness,” a spokesperson for World Athletics told CBC News, adding that FINA’s decision was “in the best interests of its sport.”
The new policies come after the International Olympic Committee last year announced it would not set a blanket rule for all sports — telling federations they should come up with their own policies.
Until now, most organizations, including FINA and World Athletics, have allowed transgender and intersex women to compete as long as they meet rules for suppressing testosterone levels.
The fight over who competes
The decision to ban many transgender women athletes has drawn a mixed response in Canada and around the world.
“The new FINA gender inclusion policy perpetuates the harmful and marginalizing practice of gender policing in women’s sport. This harms all women,” Canadian Women & Sport said in a statement on Monday.
Some female athletes have expressed concerns that transgender and intersex women have a physiological advantage in competition and say banning them from elite sports will level the playing field.
Australian Olympic swimming champion Cate Campbell on Sunday told FINA’s congress that she believed its decision would “uphold the cornerstone of fairness in elite women’s competition.”
Critics, however, believe bans like FINA’s are motivated more by ideology than science, coming amid a political push in the United States and U.K. to block trans women athletes from competing (18 U.S. states have banned trans girls and women from participating in female school sports).
“Transgender athletes are not dominating, nor have they ever dominated in sports,” Chris Mosier, a Team U.S.A. triathlete and trans advocate, told CBC News via email.
U.S. college swimmer Lia Thomas is a rare exception. In March, she became the first known transgender athlete to win a National Collegiate Athletic Association swimming championship — and faced an immediate backlash over her success.
“It is very obvious [FINA’s] policy is a reaction to public pressure because of one swimmer who worked hard, followed all the rules and had moderate success for one season,” Mosier said.
FINA confirmed there are no transgender women athletes currently competing at the elite level.
“We’re talking about maybe a handful, less than five, male-to-female trans athletes that have become the centre of attention [in the U.S.] — and so what’s happening politically, and also in the media, outstrips the numeric consideration of what constitutes a threat on women’s sport,” said Carole Oglesby, a board member of research-based advocacy organization WomenSport International.
The science so far
FINA’s decision to ban trans women who transitioned after the age of 12 is based on changes that male bodies undergo during puberty, when a surge of testosterone causes a growth spurt and greater muscle mass.
In its new policy, FINA said its scientific advisers “reported that there are sex-linked biological differences in aquatics, especially among elite athletes, that are largely the result of the substantially higher levels of testosterone to which males are exposed from puberty onwards.”
FINA has not made its scientific advice public.
Experts who spoke with CBC News said there is limited research to show what, if any, advantage a transgender woman athlete might have over a cisgender woman athlete — in large part because studies to date have not used athletes as research subjects.
“What is needed is actual science on how trans athletes perform, and that science is in its infancy,” said Joanna Harper, a medical physicist and expert in transgender athletic performance at Loughborough University in England.
Harper is leading multiple current studies looking at transgender women athletes’ performance at different stages of their transition, as well as comparing the performance of trans and cis-women athletes.
“The advantages that trans women have are significantly mitigated — not eliminated — but mitigated by hormone therapy, and this process introduces disadvantages for trans female athletes, too,” she told CBC News.
“Their larger frames are now being powered by reduced muscle mass, reduced aerobic capacity, and that can lead to disadvantages in things like quickness, recovery and endurance.”
WomenSport International has a new task force collating scientific evidence that it hopes will help sports organizations as they ponder the future of trans women’s participation.
“I just throw my hands up at the idea that the science is clear,” said board member Oglesby, a former professional softball player and retired professor of kinesiology, formerly of California State University.
“I don’t know where this is going to end up — that’s why I say I’m on the fence. I’m not sure what the best solution is, but I know that we are not at the place of determining what should happen.”
Critics of FINA’s policy also point out that all women athletes — not just those who are transgender or intersex — can be subject to invasive and humiliating sex testing to prove they’re eligible to compete.
“FINA has opened up yet another opportunity for the abuse of women athletes by mandating testing to decide who is a woman and who is not. This policy does nothing to protect women’s sports or protect cisgender women in sports,” Mosier said.
Three sports, three approaches
Days before FINA made its decision public, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) — which oversees international cycling events, including road, track, mountain and BMX — changed its policy for trans women athletes.
Rather than banning them from competing, UCI halved the maximum permitted testosterone level from 5 nmol/L — the limit currently in place for a number of other sports, including athletics — to 2.5 nmol/L, and it doubled the amount of time athletes must maintain low testosterone before they can compete, to 24 months.
Soccer’s governing body, FIFA, is also reviewing its rules this year but has said it will review any athletes’ eligibility on a case-by-case basis until its new regulations are in effect.
FINA is also proposing a new “open” competition category that transgender women — barred from elite female competition — could participate in.
It’s unclear what the event would look like, whether other sports might follow suit or if it would feature in events like the Olympics, said Sarah Teetzel, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, who is researching barriers that transgender athletes face to inclusion in sport.
“They say that a working group is looking at that right now, but will they truly invest equal prize money, promotion, opportunity, access? It would be very surprising if they did.”
Angela Schneider, director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at Western University in London, Ont., suggests that sporting federations should be working together to come up with a framework for trans women’s participation across sports.
“It does require minds that have the ability to be open but at the same time critical, and to take a step back and look at this, and allow people to actually have open dialogue,” Schneider, a former Canadian Olympic rower, said.
“It has to be a process that allows for the representation of women athletes. And it has to be a process that really does talk about fairness fundamentally.”
All is set for the 2022 Women Africa Cup of Nations!
Casablanca, Morocco– From tomorrow the 2nd to the 23rd of July, 2022, 12 African teams will be tussling for the ultimate title of the Women Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON).
The 14th edition of this year’s WAFCON tourney will also serve as the African qualification for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup with the top four teams qualifying for the global tournament which is set to take place in Australia and New Zealand, while two more teams will advance to the Inter-Confederation play-offs.
“The 2022 TotalEnergies African Women’s Cup of Nations will be held in two of the world’s most famous cities (Rabat and Casablanca).
For three glorious weeks of football, these two fantastic cities will play host to the battle for the African women’s football crown.
Visitors to Morocco can be assured of a warm welcome, magnificent landscapes, a cosmopolitan culture proud of its rich history and all the ingredients to ensure an unforgettable stay.
While Rabat is Morocco’s administrative capital and city of cultural heritage, Casablanca is its vibrant economic hub and a bustling metropolis that is constantly on the move.
The world-class stadiums of Rabat’s Prince Moulay Abdellah and Prince Moulay Hassan Stadiums and Casablanca’s Mohamed V Complex will play host to the WAFCON’s 28 games.
Hosts Morocco will kick off the tournament in Rabat against Burkina Faso at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Complex at 21h30. The tournament’s finale takes place at the same venue at 21h00 on 23 July,” read a communique from the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak in 2019, the biannual tourney had to be suspended leaving Nigeria as the current defending champions after having won it in 2018.
Group A: Morocco, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Uganda
Group B: Cameroon, Zambia, Tunisia, Togo
Group C: Nigeria, South Africa, Burundi, Botswana
Serbia’s Nikola Jokic secures largest contract in NBA history at US$303 million
Jokic, the two-time reigning Most Valuable Player (MVP), is now secured to the Nuggets for a total of six seasons for US$303 million.
The deal includes a player option and a trade kicker. The contract will kick in during the 2023-24 season at US$46.6 million and climb every season until 2027-28 when Jokic is set to make US$61.5 million.
Jokic, 27, averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists in 74 games for the Nuggets last season, to win the league’s top individual honour for a second straight season, becoming the 15th player to win at least two MVP awards in his career and the 10th to win them in back-to-back seasons.
“I don’t know what else you can say about Nikola at this point. He has consistently improved his game, he has consistently proven people wrong when they doubt him and he is consistently the best player on the floor night in and night out. I have said it many times before, I am extremely grateful to coach Nikola Jokic and just as grateful for the bond that we have built off the court in our seven years together,” said Nuggets coach, Michael Malone.
Jokic, who was born in Sombor, Serbia, was the No. 41 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. He came to the league a year later and quickly made himself an essential part of Denver’s plans before blossoming into an All-Star for the first time in the 2018-19 season.
Now a four-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA selection, Jokic has become arguably the greatest passing big player in the history of the NBA.
Sports in Canada – How to Get Your Sports Interest Awakened
If most of your friends all love sports, but you feel more or less left out because the interest is just not there, it might just be that you haven’t found the right sport yet. There are so many different sports out there, that many people are simply surprised. If there’s one sport you don’t really like, there might just be another one more suitable for you.
Maybe you have checked out some NFL predictions and placed some bets but never tried the sport for yourself? Even if you’ve learned a lot from reading different sports news and checking NFL expert picks, it is never the same as trying out the sport yourself. Once you do, chances are you’ll instantly fall in love with it.
What are the most popular sports in Canada?
To find the right sport for you, you will have to do a bit of research. First of all, you have to figure out which sport may catch your interest. Next, you will have to figure out which sports options are available in your area. In Canada, the most popular sports include ice hockey, lacrosse, baseball, and cricket. There are, of course, many other types of sports to choose from in this beautiful country, but these are just the most popular ones. Outdoor sports are very popular in Canada, and you may be able to try out rock climbing, skiing, and snowboarding, depending on where you live.
Try it out for yourself
Reading about and watching different sports can be very informative, yet it’s not the same as trying them out yourself. What you might want to check is if there are some trial sessions you can do in your local area.
Take a mate with you
Sometimes, it’s much easier to try out new things if you’re not doing them alone, but with a friend instead. If you’re missing some motivation, it can be very helpful to bring a mate, as you will feel more obligated to go. Maybe the sport you decided to try out will bring you and your friend even closer together.
Team sports or individual sports
There are many benefits when doing team sports. Not only will you make new friends, but you will also learn a lot about working together with other people. But if you’re better at being on your own there are many individual sports to choose from.
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