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In a move that will likely have a ripple effect in the sport of athletics, UK Athletics (UKA) has officially announce that the organisation supports World Athletics’ recent announcement to ban transgender and DSD athletes from competing in the female category in sport.

While transgender athletes are by and large suppported by national sporting organisation (NSOs), the protection of the female category is at stake.

UKA announcement

UKA statement following World Athletics statement on transgender and DSD regulations

UKA are fully considering the details of the World Athletics statement on transgender and DSD participation in athletics and its implications for competition in the UK, but in principle we support and welcome the direction they have taken in protecting the female category.

This direction reflects the submission made by UKA to World Athletics earlier this year.

At the same time, we remain committed to continuing to work alongside the Home Country Athletics Federations and our Transgender Project Group to maintain the inclusivity of our sport and ensure that transgender women are able to continue to compete whilst respecting these rules.

Debate continues…

Coe’s announcement received praise, mostly from athletes. But a backlash may be brewing.

“A big step for fairness and protecting the female category. Hopefully this will be the rule across all levels now, not just elite ranking events,” tweeted British Olympian Emily Diamond, who medalled in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

“Such policies risk violating international human rights principles of non-discrimination, which require such policies to start from a place of inclusion unless an exclusion can be justified as proportionate to any risks identified,” Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia, said in a statement.

“The World Athletics Council was unwilling to compromise the integrity of the female category without evidence that these male advantages can be ameliorated.

“We currently do not have any transgender athletes in elite international competition; therefore, the time is right to consult more widely on this subject. We hope that any transgender athletes who are planning to enter our sport at an elite level come forward and contribute to our new Working Group,” said Coe.

Cyclist Kristen Worley, the first transitioned athlete to challenge the gender policies of the IOC, called the ban by World Athletics “disheartening and disappointing.”

Worley was to compete for Canada at the 2008 Beijing Olympics but was unable due to health concerns.

“What’s happening is the most vulnerable are being excluded from sport more for political reasons and not based on science and research,” Worley said.

However, at the end of the day, male-born athletes who transition after puberty, retain male advantages in speed, power and endurance. Much of it, but not all related to testosterone production. If a biological female athlete was to increase her testosterone levels to that of a male, she would need to dope and risk health issues and a ban from sport. The other offering is a ban or testosterone suppression, especially in respect to DSD athletes; athletics with “difference is sexual development,” like South Africa’s Caster Semenya who has won Olympic gold in the 800m event.

The debate is far from over.