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World Netball bans transgender players from international competitions

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World Netball has banned transgender players from international competition with immediate effect under a new participation and inclusion policy.

The global governing body of what has traditionally been, and remains internationally, a women’s sport, said it had undergone a lengthy consultation before issuing the policy.

“Following a detailed review of the science and consultation with experts and members, it has been determined that women’s netball internationally is a gender-affected activity and that policy is required to ensure equity and safety at this level of our sport,” World said. Netball said in a statement.

“World Netball believes that the research it has relied on is robust, comprising many research studies, all of which have been published in peer-reviewed journals and come from multiple different research groups around the world.”

The statement also said the policy was based on current evidence that “strongly suggests that a physical advantage is retained after suppression of testosterone levels in those who have experienced the biological advantages of testosterone at any point in life.”

The only exception for transgender athletes was for those who could “establish, to WN’s satisfaction, that they have not experienced the biological effects of testosterone at any time.”

In recent years, several sports have tightened participation rules for transgender athletes in elite women’s competitions.(Getty Images: Vladimir Vladimirov)

The world governing bodies for cricket, cycling, athletics, swimming and chess have tightened their rules of participation for transgender athletes in elite women’s competitions over recent years.

Netball’s policy refers only to international competition and WN said national governing bodies could choose to “modify or even not apply these guidelines” if they decided to base their participation rules on other factors.

Critics of transgender inclusion in women’s sports say that going through male puberty gives athletes a huge musculoskeletal advantage that transition does not mitigate.

LGBT advocacy groups say excluding trans athletes amounts to discrimination and that not enough research has been done on the impact of transition on athletic performance.

WN will review the policy annually.

“World Netball is committed to evidence-based decision-making and is committed to evaluating any emerging evidence pertaining to policy elements,” the statement added.

“This includes any high-quality research that is published and informs a formal policy review.”


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