Transgender athletes will be banned from elite female competitions. Here's what that means.

World Athletics has banned transgender women from competing in female international events. 

Adopting the same rules as swimming did last year, World Athletics president, Sebastian Coe, announced transgender athletes who have been through male puberty will no longer be allowed to compete in female world ranking competitions from March 31.

Coe told a news conference that the decision to exclude transgender women was based "on the overarching need to protect the female category".

"We're not saying no forever."


Coe added that there are currently no transgender athletes competing internationally in the sport and World Athletics would form a task force to study the issue of trans inclusion, which would be chaired by a transgender athlete.

World Athletics also announced another set of updates for athletes with differences in sex development (DSD), which will impact 13 athletes.

Who will the changes affect?  

The new regulations could keep two-time South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya and other athletes with differences in sex development from competing. 

Under the new changes, DSD athletes will be required to reduce their blood testosterone level to below 2.5 nanomoles per litre, for a minimum of 24 months to compete internationally in the female category in any event.

Previously, DSD athletes were only restricted in events ranging from 400m to 1600m.

To compete at next year's Olympics, Semenya, who was an Olympic champion at 800 metres, would have to undergo hormone-suppressing treatment for six months, something she has said she will never do again, having undergone the treatment a decade ago under previous rules.

Caster Semeny competes in the Women's 5000m heats on day six of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at Hayward Field in 202. Image: Andy Lyons/Getty.


The tighter rules will also impact other DSD athletes such as Christine Mboma, the 2020 Olympic silver medallist in the 200m, and Francine Niyonsaba, who finished runner-up to Semenya in the 800 at the 2016 Olympics.

At the 2020 Olympics, Semenya and Burundi's Niyonsaba were both barred from the 800m before turning their attention to the 5,000.

Semenya failed to qualify for the Games while Niyonsaba made the final before being disqualified for a lane violation.

Namibia's Mboma, prevented from running the 400m, switched to the 200m, winning silver.

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What did swimming do?

Last year, FINA, swimming's world governing body, announced they would stop transgender athletes from competing in women's elite races if they had gone through male puberty.


The new policy required transgender competitors to complete their transition by the age of 12 in order to compete in women's competitions.

"We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women's category at FINA competitions," said FINA's president, Husain Al-Musallam.

The governing body also created a working group to establish an "open" category for transgender athletes in some events as part of its new policy.

"FINA will always welcome every athlete. The creation of an open category will mean that everybody has the opportunity to compete at an elite level," said Al-Musallam. 

At the time, Mama Alto, CEO of Transgender Victoria, said the decision was "disappointing in setting a precedent for exclusion of transgender women". 

"Whilst FINA has now made this decision for elite sports competitions, it is vital that community sports takes a different approach. This decision is made in the context of elite, professional, global competition - such as at Olympic level. For community sports, it’s about so much more than just competition: it’s about participation, inclusion, community-building, health and wellbeing," she wrote in a statement on Instagram.

However, others, including former Olympic champion Caitlyn Jenner, who came out as transgender in 2015, welcomed the news. 


"If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period," she wrote on Twitter at the time. 

Read more: 

Transgender swimmers have been banned from women's elite races. Here's what that means.

'I'm a trans athlete who's played at a high level. This is what's missing from the conversation.'

- With AAP. 

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