The International Rugby League (IRL) announced Tuesday that biologically male athletes who identify was female are currently banned from competing in the women’s league until officials develop a policy for transgender athletes.
The pause comes on the heels of new policy from FINA, the world’s top international swimming association, which has restricted female-identifying males from elite swimming competitions, The Daily Wire reported.
“The IRL is continuing work to review and update rules about transgender participation in women’s international rugby league and will seek to use the upcoming World Cup to help develop a comprehensive inclusion policy,” a statement from the group said.
“Until further research is completed to enable the IRL to implement a formal transgender inclusion policy, male-to-female (transwomen) players are unable to play in sanctioned women’s international rugby league matches,” IRL added.
The international league further said it believes “rugby league is a game for all and that anyone and everyone can play our sport,” while adding that “safety” and “perceived risk” had to be evaluated, too.
“It is the IRL’s responsibility to balance the individual’s right to participate – a long-standing principle of rugby league and at its heart from the day it was established – against perceived risk to other participants, and to ensure all are given a fair hearing,” IRL said.
“The IRL will continue to work towards developing a set of criteria, based on best possible evidence, which fairly balance the individual’s right to play with the safety of all participants,” the statement added.
Allowing biologically male athletes to compete against women and girls has sparked outrage across the nation.
Notably, high school female athletes in Connecticut are challenging policies that allowed biological males to “dominate” girls high school track and field events. The girls — Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, and Alanna Smith — are represented by religious freedom organization Alliance Defending Freedom.
“At the 2019 Connecticut Indoor Track & Field State Championships, Selina finished one place away from qualifying for finals, and the opportunity to compete for a qualifying spot at the New England Regional Championships in the 55-meter dash,” ADF outlined. “The first and second spots in the race were taken by two male athletes. This was a massive disappointment for Selina. It meant she had to sit on the sidelines instead of competing in front of college scouts!”
“Had those two biological boys not been allowed to compete, Selina could have qualified to run the 55-meter event at the New England regionals,” the group said. “The male who won Selina’s race set a girls’ state indoor record of 6.95 seconds in the 55-meter dash and went on to win the New England titles in both the 55-meter dash and the 300-meter dash.”
Not all female athletes are standing up for other girls, though.
Soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe recently told Time Magazine that she’s “100%” behind “transgender inclusion” in girls sports, while ridiculing parents who are worried about the disadvantages their daughters might face.
“I would also encourage everyone out there who is afraid someone’s going to have an unfair advantage over their kid to really take a step back and think what are we actually talking about here,” the 36-year-old said. “We’re talking about people’s lives. I’m sorry, your kid’s high school volleyball team just isn’t that important.”