World Athletics will re-examine their transgender guidelines at the end of the year after Sebastian Coe spoke in support of the hardline approach adopted by swimming’s governing body.
In the past week, FINA has voted that trans women who ‘experienced any part of male puberty’ can no longer enter female events – a marked departure from the prevailing stances of Olympic sports.
While World Athletics rules say a transgender athlete can compete if she has a testosterone level below 5 nmol/L continuously for a period of at least 12 months – six months longer than stipulated by their regulations around athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) – Coe has been emphatic in his belief that ‘biology trumps gender’.
His point of view is bolstered by testosterone research around the DSD issue in track and field, which was challenged in the lengthy case with Caster Semenya.
In giving his opinion on FINA’s position, Coe said: ‘We see an international federation asserting its primacy in setting rules, regulations and policies that are in the best interest of its sport. This is as it should be.
‘We have always believed, and repeated constantly, that biology trumps gender and we will continue to review our regulations in line with this.’
Seb Coe has been emphatic in his belief that ‘biology trumps gender’and World Athletics will re-examine their transgender guidelines at the end of the year
Testosterone research around the DSD issue was challenged in the lengthy case with Caster Semenya
When asked if WA would adopt a similar stance, Coe added: ‘We have always said our regulations in this area are a living document, specific to our sport and we will follow the science.
FINA (pictured president Husain Al Musallam) voted that trans women who ‘experienced any part of male puberty’ can no longer enter female events
‘We continue to study, research and contribute to the growing body of evidence that testosterone is a key determinator in performance and have scheduled a discussion on our DSD and Transgender regulations with our council at the end of the year.’
Coe insisted that on his watch fairness for females in athletics will always come ahead of inclusion.
He said: ‘My responsibility is to protect the integrity of women’s sport and we take that very seriously, and if it means that we have to make adjustments to protocols going forward, we will.
‘And I’ve always made it clear: if we ever get pushed into a corner to that point where we’re making a judgement about fairness or inclusion, I will always fall down on the side of fairness.
‘You have to and that’s my responsibility. Of course, it’s a societal issue. If one of my colleagues here in my team suddenly becomes transgender, it doesn’t make a difference to me. They will continue to do the same job with skill and aplomb in exactly the way they were before they made that transition. This is not possible in sport. It is fundamental to performance and integrity and that, for me, is the big, big difference.’
Coe indicated some organisations could fear taking a hardline stance against inclusivity for fear of crippling legal challenges.
Coe said some organisations could fear taking a hardline stance for fear of legal challenges
University of Pennsylvania trans athlete Lia Thomas prepares for the 500m freestyle at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in March
He said: ‘We’ve spent $1,000,000 (on legal fees related to DSD). We’re not Fifa but we’re not bereft. But there are other sports that are genuinely fearful that, if they go down that road, they’ll bankrupt themselves defending this. So it’s not that easy for us to just sit there and say, “Well, some sports are sort of tiptoeing around it”.
‘The reality of it is it’s quite an outlay and they’ve also got limited data and research.
‘The International Olympic Committee created the framework, which said that nobody should be making these decisions unless you’ve got 10 years of longitudinal study.
‘Well we have. I doubt whether, on transgender, anybody in sport has got 10 years of longitudinal study – they just haven’t.’