British Athletics call for transgender women to compete with men in 'open' category

British Athletics is calling for a change in the law to preserve women's events for those who were female at birth.

The governing body announced that it supported allowing transgender women to compete in an "open" category that would replace the current male category.

British Triathlon also announced last year that it planned to introduce two categories for competition - one for athletes who were female at birth and one "open" category for men, transgender women and non-binary athletes.

UK Athletics chair Ian Beattie said sport has a "duty to ensure fairness in competition in the women's category".

He added: "Therefore we are calling for a change in legislation that will provide clarity for all and ensure the women's category can be lawfully reserved for female at birth competitors."

World Athletics announced last month that it is consulting with member federations on a proposal that would impose more stringent testosterone limits on transgender women athletes competing in women's events.

Swimming's world governing body, FINA, voted to effectively ban transgender athletes from competing in women's elite races and explore setting up an "open" category in June last year.

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The policy would require transgender competitors to have completed their transition by the age of 12 to take part in women's contests.

FINA President Husain Al-Musallam said at the time the decision was announced: "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.

"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.

"This has not been done before, so FINA will need to lead the way. I want all athletes to feel included in being able to develop ideas during this process."

'Fragile' integrity of women's sport

Tom Daley described his fury at FINA's decision, telling reporters at the British LGBT Awards last summer: "Like most queer people, anyone that's told they can't compete or can't do something they love just because of who they are, it's not on.

"It's something I feel really strongly about. Giving trans people the chance to share their side."

Lord Coe, the president of World Athletics, warned the integrity of women's sport was "fragile" if federations did not make the correct decisions.

The decision by FINA follows controversy after an American trans swimmer claimed victory in a women's race at a US college championships.

Lia Thomas was first in the 500m freestyle final, beating her nearest competitor, Olympic silver medallist and University of Virginia swimmer Emma Weyant, by more than a second and a half.

Thomas became the first trans woman to win a National Collegiate Athletic Association swimming championship title.

Former Olympic athlete Caitlyn Jenner, who is herself trans, said Thomas was not the rightful winner of the race - while Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, refused to recognise Thomas's win and signed a proclamation acknowledging Weyant as the victor.

Laurel Hubbard, 43, became the first trans athlete, as well as the oldest weightlifter, to compete in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, after dividing opinion over whether she should be included.

Hubbard, from New Zealand, praised organisers for allowing her to compete, commending the International Olympic Committee for its "commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible".