Another nation blocks trans rugby players from female competition
The Irish Rugby Football Union has amended its rules to block trans players
The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), the governing body for the number one-ranked international rugby team in the world, says it will alter gender participation policy to disallow transgender women from playing alongside adult female players so as to “ensure fair competition and the safety of competitors.”
“[We are] obliged to take a precautionary approach with respect to playing and training in contact rugby, an approach that needs to be applied in order to ensure fair competition and the safety of competitors,” the IRFU stated.
The changes introduced follow similar measures implemented by the English RFU and other such governing bodies across the globe, and according to the IRFU comes after a review of medical and scientific evidence.
The new rules will formalize requirements which mean that women's rugby in Ireland will be restricted to players whose sex was recorded as female at birth.
The move comes amid peer reviewed studies which highlight the differences between someone whose sex was recorded as male at birth compared to those whose sex was assigned as female, and state that bodily changes to a person's physique while experiencing male puberty remain even after testosterone suppression therapy.
Meanwhile, players who whose birth was recorded as female may still play in the male category provided that they supply written consent and that a risk assessment study is carried out.
However, critics of the gender-based restrictions being imposed on sport have argued that the new rules impact just two registered rugby players in the entire country of Ireland.
Transgender Equality Network Ireland, a group whose aim it is to safeguard the rights of transgender people in Ireland, stated recently that they would be “very disappointed” if they IRFU imposed a ban on transgender women from playing the sport.
But while equality groups see the issue as one of participation, the IRFU and other such governing bodies disagree and state that it is one of health and safety.
“The IRFU is committed to inclusivity and has worked with the players and other groups in the LGBT+ community to explain that this change is based solely on new research related to safety,” said Anne Marie Hughes of Spirit of Rugby, an IRFU initiative designed to promote the sport.
“This is a particularly sensitive area, and it is important that respect is shown to all members of our rugby family and the wider community.”