Save Womens’ Sports Australasia is scathing of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) ongoing failure to develop a
solution for the inclusion of transwomen in sports that also balances the rights of female athletes to safety and fair
Spokeswoman Ro Edge says the IOC has failed all female athletes.
“The IOC decision released last week ignores the wealth of scientific evidence, and common sense, that males have a
competitive advantage against females in almost all sports. It has effectively eliminated the female category in sports
by now allowing any male to compete in the female category on the basis only of “self-identification” as a woman.
“Lacking the integrity and moral courage to do the right thing, the IOC has passed the problem on how to include
transwomen in sports to all the International Federations to figure out. It’s a complete cop out and is especially
disappointing given the huge resources and expertise the IOC has at its disposal.”
“Rather than simply protecting the female category in sports and creating an open category for transgender athletes, the
IOC has developed an unworkable framework that is unfair to female athletes.
Former long distance runner Allison Roe MBE is also highly critical of the IOC’s framework. “It wasn’t that long ago
that women around the globe stood up for and claimed their own sporting categories in order to participate fairly and to
be recognised in sport. By nature women are intrinsically kind and inclusive but these attributes are now being prayed
on, along with women’s rights to fair competition being stifled. Now women are having to literally ‘fight’ to protect
their own women’s category”.
Going forward, in order to restrict a male from competing as a female, an individual sporting body will have to provide
its own “robust and peer-reviewed research” to prove that women will be unfairly disadvantaged.
“This is indefensible. It ignores all the research that has already been done and it means males can compete against
women until each individual sport has gathered sufficient evidence to prove what we all know, and that is that puberty
gives males physical advantages, most of which are not mitigated by testosterone suppression1.
“It’s clear the IOC hasn’t been able to figure out how to allow the inclusion of transwomen in the female category
without it impacting fairness and safety for female athletes – and that’s because it is an impossible task.
Ms Edge says sport has an obligation to manage three imperatives – fairness, safety, and inclusion. The sports must
choose which of these imperatives it will prioritise. World Rugby chose safety as their priority, followed by fairness
and then inclusion.
The IOC Transgender Framework prioritises inclusion. It states that “everyone, regardless of gender identity, should be
able to participate in sport safely and without prejudice”.
“While no one should disagree with that, the real question is, should a person have the right to participate in any
category they choose?
We, and many others, say no. In the same way that a heavy weight boxer is not allowed to self-identify into the feather
weight category, a male, regardless of their gender identity, should not be allowed to self-identify into the female
category. Gender identities don’t play sports. Sexed bodies do.
Ultimately, if inclusion is the overriding goal, then sex-based categories are a nonsense and the ability for women to
pursue fair and safe competition is eliminated.
“The IOC doesn’t seem to care about fairness, safety or competition in sport and is happy to discriminate against
Ms Edge says the IOC has not released any of its guidance – including who it spoke with and research gathered – in
developing the framework. “It is that the IOC has ignored scientists, best evidence, and women’s sports advocacy groups