Identifying the principles for an equitable, safe and evidence-based rugby-specific policy for transgender participation was the focus of a ground-breaking and productive World Rugby meeting in London this week.
For the first time in sport, leading independent experts, with differing views, were invited to share their expertise, opinions and research with a dedicated multi-disciplinary transgender participation working group.
Across two days of constructive and positive discussion, the invited experts from the areas of performance, science, medicine, risk, law and socio-ethics presented the latest research, studies and considerations.
World Rugby’s policy is based on the current International Olympic Committee policy. After considering all available evidence, it is important for World Rugby to explore a rugby-specific framework for all, prioritising athlete welfare, inclusion and fairness.
While not a decision-making forum, the key considerations will be taken forward by the working group chaired by Dr Araba Chintoh, a World Rugby Executive Leadership Scholarship recipient, psychiatrist and former Canada international.
Key outcomes included:
- Agreement on key issues of physiological basis of performance differences between men and women
- Further consultation and research required, particularly in the areas of specific injury risk, ethical considerations and performance
- Commitment from World Rugby to explore further research to inform future guideline revision
Dr Chintoh said: “This was an important and ground-breaking meeting that brought together leading experts with differing views to discuss and inform a way forward for rugby that promotes inclusivity, while prioritising safety of rugby participants.
“I would like to thank all attendees for their honest and important contributions, and for keeping an open-mind. The expert opinions have provided us with important guidance that will frame our decision-making regarding updated and fit-for-purpose policies.”
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont added: “As the first of its kind, the workshop was a giant leap forward for rugby and significant in a wider sporting context. We explored the best available evidence and have heard the relevant independent expert opinions and I believe all delegates found it a stimulating and ground-breaking forum.
“It is now down to us, under the auspices of the working group, to take the information forward and inform our policy-making, and while this process will take time, we are committed to delivering a fit-for-purpose policy in the modern sporting and societal landscape, balancing inclusivity, while promoting fairness and welfare.”
Working group: Dr Araba Chintoh (Independent Chair), Dr Deb Robinson (Independent), Dr Éanna Falvey (World Rugby), Dr Ross Tucker (Independent), Mark Harrington (World Rugby Head of Technical Services), Yvonne Nolan (World Rugby Legal Counsel), Katie Sadleir (World Rugby General Manager, Women’s Rugby), Rachael Burford (RFU).
Brett Gosper (World Rugby CEO), Dominic Rumbles (World Rugby Head of Communications), Alys Lewis (England Rugby), Dr Emma Hilton (University of Manchester), Dr Derek Glidden (Consultant Psychiatrist, Nottingham Centre Trans Health), Joanna Harper (Loughbourgh University), Dr Tommy Lundberg (Karolinska Institutet), Dr Keith Stokes (University of Bath, RFU), Stefan Arver (Karolinska Institutet), Dr Seema Patel (Nottingham Trent University), Alys Lewis (RFU), John Miles and Jeremy Rogers (WRU), Danielle Waterman (Player and Broadcaster), Nicola Williams (Fair Play for Women), Megan Goettsches and Verity Smith (International Gay Rugby), David Ho (World Rugby Anti-doping) Dr. John Pike (The Open University), Simon Croft (Gendered Intelligence), Richard Tolley (Marsh), Tim O’Connor (Barrister), Jamie Hooper and Cathy Hughes (Sport England).