England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Rugby Football League (RFL) have decided to restrict transgender participation in the domestic game. The governing bodies’ decisions have recommended that only players recorded as female at birth will be allowed to play in the women’s category.
The RFU talked about a review of its existing policy about the issue in 2020 with a survey that got over 11,000 responses. The review started the survey last week and considered extensive consultation with scientific evidence from other sporting entities on the policy of safety and fairness concerns. The results said that only 33 votes were in favour of the ruling while 26 were against and two declined to vote.
The Union released a statement on Friday saying, “The RFU Council has determined that until such time as new further peer-reviewed science is available, a precautionary approach is appropriate to ensure fair competition and safety of all competitors.”
The Rugby Football League board also approved the new gender participation policy and has agreed to implement the new guideline next month. This policy will be further reviewed by November 2024.
Addressing this decision, RFU President, His Honour Jeff Blackett talked about how their policy is based on proven scientific evidence. He said, “Inclusion is at the heart of rugby values and we will continue to work with everyone to keep listening, learning and finding ways to demonstrate there is a place for everyone in our game. We know that many will be disappointed by this decision however, it has been based on all the scientific evidence available.”
Transgender women athletes like Alix Fitzgerald, who plays in the rugby union for the East London Vixens, will now be banned from the sport in England. She was appalled by the decision and pleaded to the fact that she has never put any other player’s life in danger.
She said, “I’ll be honest with you. If I thought for one moment I was a danger to the people in front of me or the people I play with, I wouldn’t do this. I have no desire to hurt anybody at all, accidentally or not.”