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The expected backlash over the decision by World Athletics to protect the women’s category in sport begins. While the majority of responses to the World Atheltics Council press conference earlier this week were positive, especially by biological females, the transgender and similarly athletes with Differences in Sexual Development (DSD), are calling the decision political.

“For women with intersex traits, they will continue to be subjected to horrific sex testing practices and medically unnecessary surgery, gender-based violence and discrimination,” Hudson Taylor, founder and executive director of Athlete Ally, said in a statement.

According to an article in the Independent out of the UK: Ricki Coughlan, one of Australia’s first transgender athletes in professional running, said WA’s ruling would embolden the “forces of hate” against transgender people.

“There’s no nice way of putting this,” she said. “The forces of hate that are out there that don’t want transgender people to exist in our society … will take this as a win and will then say ‘okay, let’s move onto the next thing’.”

Meanwhile, British Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies vociferously supports the decision saying, “Female athletes need their coaches and male teammates who, just like them, know the truth, the biology and the fact that females have their own category of sport to specifically exclude male advantage. Come together and say NO. Together you are powerful. Fair sport.”

British Marathon runners Mara Yamauchi has advocated over social media many times that the women’s category should be protected.


More will come from the decision to protect the women’s category in sport.

While banning from the women’s category DSD athletes is a different thing than banning trans athletes who went through male puberty, they are similarly banned. And similary, the DSD athletes are voicing their opinion.

Perhaps a fair and equitable decision would be to provide international sport with a DSD category for both trans and DSD athletes. The Olympic Games currenly offer the para Olympics for cognitively and physically challenged athletes. One only has to re-watch the 2016 Rio Olympic women’s 800 metre final to see that there is indeed advantages for DSD athletes.

Additionally, one does not need to look further than swimmer Lia Thomas in the NCAA to see that trans athletes who have passed through male puberty also have advantages over biological females.

At the end of the day, World Athletics and the International Olympic Committee need to put as much energy into protecting a DSD-like category as they have the female category.