UK Athletics urges government to change legislation on transgender athletes

UK Athletics urges government to change legislation on transgender athletes

UK Athletics wants the government to change legislation surrounding transgender athletes.

The governing body wants to have the ability to ensure the women’s category can be lawfully reserved for female-born competitors amid the ongoing transgender debate.

World Athletics has proposed to continue to allow transgender women to compete in female international track and field events. A consultation process is under way with member federations, who will vote in March.

World Athletics’ preferred option is to tighten the sport’s eligibility rules, yet still use testosterone limits as the basis for inclusion.

UKA, which has a Transgender Project Group to make recommendations, does not agree with the use of testosterone suppression for transgender women.

Instead, it would like to reserve the female category for those who were female at birth, but does not believe the ‘sporting exemption’ introduced in the Equalities Act of 2010 allows them to lawfully exclude transwomen in possession of a Gender Recognition Certificate from competing.

Chair Ian Beattie said: “Certainly there has been correspondence with senior ministers, and so on, on this area. I think, ultimately, we’re very keen we all recognise what we’ve got responsibility for – and the government are the only ones who can change legislation.

“That’s where we would look for that focus to be set. Certainly I think they’re sympathetic to the approach that we want to take. That has been the feedback that we’ve had.

“It’s the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and Equalities Act 2010. It’s specifically the Gender Recognition Act 2004 which states that people with gender recognition certificates have to be treated as female for all purposes. And there’s not an exemption for that for sporting purposes.

“It’s fair to say that if we didn’t get a legal change, it would be very difficult for us to go ahead with this policy.”

Eilish McColgan
Eilish McColgan has questioned World Athletics proposals to continue allowing transgender women to compete in female events (Mike Egerton/PA)

UKA would welcome an open category, which would replace the current male category and be open to athletes of all sexes.

Commonwealth Games 10,000m champion Eilish McColgan has questioned World Athletics’ plans, saying “even if there’s a one per cent advantage then it’s too much of an advantage”, and Beattie welcomes athletes’ input.

“Yes, we do. I think people do have views, as long as the discussions are done within a spirit of respect, it’s really useful to get these views,” he said.

“The language is very important, there’s contentious views on both sides but, as a board, we know what our athletes think. So yes, I do welcome that.

“We’ve spoken to a number of other interest groups. It’s important that we are aware of all these views.”