World Athletics Stands Firm on Restricting Trans Women Athletes

World Athletics Stands Firm on Restricting Trans Women Athletes

Policy Draws Criticism From Inclusion Advocates

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe fiercely defended his organization’s controversial eligibility criteria excluding some trans women athletes. Coe doubled down that regulations prohibiting trans women who underwent male puberty from ranking competitions are “here to stay.”

The policy, enacted last March, brought heavy backlash from LGBTQ inclusion groups. But Coe contends the rules defend the overall integrity of women’s track and field. He remains unmoved by external pressure to rewrite restrictions many decry as discriminatory.

Science Still Out on Exact Advantages

Coe justified the ban by asserting “it does make a difference” regarding physical performance advantages for trans women exposed to heightened testosterone from male puberty. However, research is still inconclusive on what precise edge such hormone differences confer.

While observing trans women post-transition still show some elevated strength and physique versus cisgender women, a 2021 study found testosterone-lowering therapies substantially reduced those gaps over time. The complex science continues fueling debate.

Open to New Evidence, With Caveats

Coe explained World Athletics established a working group to continually evaluate emerging research on this issue. But he stressed any policy shifts would still prioritize “protecting and preserving the female category” in track and field.

So despite claiming an openness to evolving science, Coe’s overriding concern about perceived fairness for cisgender women athletes suggests change remains unlikely. Absent discoveries fundamentally altering current data, trans women face exclusion for years to come.

Aklimson Phangcho

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