A sports council in the United Kingdom on Thursday released a review that concluded men who identify as transgender women cannot fairly compete against women, as they are stronger, faster and inherently have more stamina.
So-called transgender women and girls competing in female sports have dominated headlines in recent years. At the Tokyo Olympics, some men were even allowed to compete as women, despite the fact that they are biologically male.
Arguments throughout the U.S. and Europe about the issue of allowing men to compete as women have become more prevalent in recent years as LGBT activists insist that it is non-inclusive to prevent men who say they are transgender from competing as females.
The U.K. Sports Council’s Equality Group spent 18 months taking up the issue, and released its findings Thursday.
Citing “differences in strength, stamina and physique” between men and women, the SCEG noted that a new approach on men in women’s sports is needed.
“For many sports, the inclusion of transgender people, fairness and safety cannot co-exist in a single competitive model,” the group said, BBC Sport reported.
Guidance from the review concluded that “testosterone suppression is unlikely to guarantee fairness between transgender women and natal females in gender-affected sports.”
Additionally, per the SCEG, men who have taken hormones in order to become more feminine have retained “differences in strength, stamina and physique between the average woman compared with the average transgender woman or non-binary person registered male at birth, with or without testosterone suppression.”
“In order to survive and thrive in the future, sport must adapt to reflect modern society, and that often, it is too slow to do so,” said the review.
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Guidance from the review suggested that non-elite level sports reimagine how some competitions are organized. This includes categories of competition beyond male and female.
“Evidence indicates it is fair and safe for transgender people to be included within the male category in most sports,” the review stated. “Competitive fairness cannot be reconciled with self-identification into the female category in gender-affected sport.”
“There is no one solution to suit everyone. The guidance [recognizes] there needs to be different solutions for different sports, so it is about acknowledging the needs of different groups,” the SCEG added.
The review concluded that sports should find a way to include transgender athletes without having their presence come at the expense of women.
“While our consultation found that there was widespread support for ensuring that sport was a welcoming place for everyone in society, including for transgender people, it also highlighted that there were concerns relating to safety and fairness in relation to transgender inclusion, particularly in female sport, and that there was no consensus on a single solution as to how this should be addressed,” the review stated.
Robbie de Santos with the U.K.-based liberal LGBT advocacy group Stonewall, was among those who expressed frustration with the guidance.
“It is extremely harmful for this guidance to suggest that there is an inherent conflict between inclusion, fairness and safety, when in reality, the three go hand in hand,” de Santos said, the BBC reported. “Amidst the current manufactured moral panic around trans people, it is important that governing bodies’ policies are based on solid evidence about the reality of sport and inclusion.
On behalf of the group, de Santos asked the SCEG to “reflect on the real-life impacts of this guidance on trans people who play sport,” and argued that the research was conducted without taking into account the “current realities of trans inclusion in sport.”
Meanwhile, a woman named Dr. Nicola Williams, from the group Fair Play For Women, praised the guidance for recognizing the biological and physiological differences between men and woman.
“This comprehensive review confirms what we all know: sex matters in sport. That’s why we have always needed a separate protected category for females and still do,” said Williams. “This guidance puts an end to the idea that it is possible to allow people who were born male into the female sports category, without women and girls paying the price.”