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World Rugby half calls out the transgender bullies - a half brave but welcome move for women's sport

Tom Winnifrith
Saturday 25 July 2020

In the sport of Rugby the World governing body did something that was, on the surface of it, quite brave: it commissioned a scientific study on transgender women playing the sport. To the surprise of nobody with half a brain cell, the report showed that people born as men but who had transitioned would, even if they took hormone reducing drugs, be faster and stronger than what World Rugby terms cis-women. Or, what you and I just term women. And worse. If real women played against trans athletes, the study showed that their risk of serious injury increased by 30%. As such World Rugby is not going to allow trans women to play against women born as women and is using safety as its excuse. That offers a get out of jail card to any contact sport to do the same.

The cowardice is that World Rugby did not simply ban trans athletes because it is unfair that they can compete against real women being stronger and faster because they were born men. This just makes a mockery of women’s sport. Time and again we have seen fairly average male athletes transition and then become world beating women athletes. Can we just not be brave and say this is unfair? Clearly Rugby cannot.

It gets worse. World Rugby says that while it is banning trans athletes now it will continue to “review” the science. Hells teeth: just how does it think that the science is going to change? Some folks are born male and others female, that is not going to alter. A braver World Rugby would just say that science is not going to change, just get over it folks. If you want to stop being a bloke and have surgery go ahead and all in Rugby can support your decision but that does not allow you to then go and compete against those who are weaker and slower as they were born female. Full stop.

Surely all sports should be able to say that. That they cannot speak what is a self evident truth is a reflection of the terrible world we live in.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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