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International rugby governing body bans transgendered athletes from competing against women

The league stated that it is its responsibility to find a balance between the individual right to participate in the sport against the perceived risk to other participants.

International rugby governing body bans transgendered athletes from competing against women
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
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The International Rugby League (IRL) has joined with the FINA, the international governing body for swimming, to ban transgendered athletes from competing in women’s games. 

In a statement on Tuesday, the IRL announced that “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.” 

“In reaching this position, the IRL, which last reviewed transgender participation in international rugby league in January-February 2021, considered several relevant developments in world sport,” the organization, which represents women’s rugby worldwide, stated. 

The league stated that it is its responsibility to find a balance between the individual right to participate in the sport against the perceived risk to other participants, insisting that the IRL “reaffirms its belief that rugby league is a game for all and that anyone and everyone can play our sport.” 

“The IRL will seek to work with the eight Women’s Rugby League World Cup 2021 finalists to obtain data to inform a future transwomen inclusion policy in 2023, which takes into consideration the unique characteristics of rugby league,” the statement continued. 

The move to ban transgendered individuals from the women’s sport comes as the international bodies for swimming and British Cycling suspended the participation of transgendered athletes. 

British Cycling noted in April that its previous guidelines, which allowed for the participation of transgendered athletes were “unfair on all women riders and [pose] a challenge to the integrity of racing.” 

Earlier this week, FINA, the world’s governing body for swimming, ruled that any transgendered athletes who went through male puberty are required to participate in a separate category that only includes individuals who claim a separate gender identity from their biological sex. 

The only transgendered athletes allowed to compete in the women’s swimming must have completed their transition by the age of 12, essentially preventing the participation of any transgendered athlete in the women’s sport. 

The decision was cheered on by a former teammate of Lia Thomas, the transgendered athlete who won medals in the NCAA Women’s Swimming Championship this year. 

According to the Daily Wire, the rival team member celebrated the move while blasting Thomas’ victory as illegitimate in the wake of FINA’s decision. 

“I am incredibly happy that Lia Thomas will never be an Olympic gold medalist. I think that’s great. But this doesn’t actually fix the NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association],” she said anonymously to the Daily Wire. 

Additionally, the former teammate said she “would love” for the NCAA to take away Thomas’ championship title, but she doubts it will ever happen, even if the NCAA adopts FINA’s new policy on transgendered athletes. 

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