Rugby league follows swimming with ban on transgender athletes

·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Rugby League ball (pictured left) and (pictured right) athlete Lia Thomas on the podium.
International Rugby League has banned transgender athletes from competition, following FINA's decision of a 'gender inclusion policy' that immediately impacts swimmer Lia Thomas (pictured right). (Getty Images)

The International Rugby League (IRL) has partially followed in FINA's wake and banned transgender athletes from international competition until further research is conducted.

Swimming's governing body made the huge decision to adopt a new “gender inclusion policy” over the weekend that only permits swimmers who transitioned before age 12 to compete in women’s events.

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And following the decision, the IRL announced athletes that have transitioned from male to female will not be able to compete in international matches.

"Until further research is completed to enable the IRL to implement a formal transgender inclusion policy, male-to-female (transwomen) players are unable to play in sanctioned women’s international rugby league matches," the IRL statement read.

"The IRL reaffirms its belief that rugby league is a game for all and that anyone and everyone can play our sport," the statement continued.

"It is the IRL’s responsibility to balance the individual’s right to participate - a long-standing principle of rugby league and at its heart from the day it was established - against perceived risk to other participants, and to ensure all are given a fair hearing."

The IRL said it would use information from the upcoming Women's World Cup to help create an inclusion policy for 2023.

It is not yet clear how the decision could affect the two primary domestic women's competitions in each hemisphere - the NRLW in Australia and the RFL Women's Super League in England.

ARL commissioners Peter Beattie and Wayne Pearce are both members of the IRL board, as are RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer and chairman Simon Johnson and both organisations have been developing their own transgender policies.

FINA's transgender policy divides sport world

On the weekend, FINA made the decision to introduce an 'inclusion policy' that only permits swimmers who transitioned before age 12 to compete in women’s events.

The organisation also proposed an "open competition category" specifically for transgender and other gender non-specific athletes.

The new policy was passed by 71% of the vote across 152 FINA members and was described as "only a first step towards full inclusion" for trans athletes.

Australian Olympic greats Cate Campbell and Emily Seebohm are among the most high-profile swimmers to publicly endorse FINA's controversial new move.

Campbell, a triple Olympic gold medallist and former 100 metres freestyle world record holder, addressed the FINA congress before the vote on Monday morning AEDT.

While fellow Aussie swimmer Maddie Groves hit out at Campbell for endorsing FINA's decision.

Cycling also made a call on the weekend, which resulted in transgender athletes having to wait longer before competing.

with AAP

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