Trans women have no advantage over cisgender female athletes, report finds

The report reviews key medical findings, testosterone research, and myths about trans athletes that have been circulated in sport. 

Women playing rugby, new report proves trans women athletes have no advantages over cisgender teammates.
Image: Twitter @johnnyddavidson

A new report commissioned by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport demonstrates that trans female athletes have no inherent advantage over their cisgender counterparts in elite sport.

The report includes an overview of 2011-2021 research about key medical findings, testosterone effects on the body, the history of gender categories in sports, myths about trans athletes, and accounts of discrimination and violence against trans women.

The research cited suggests that trans women have been banned from sports based on false research and transphobic policies. It concluded that there is “strong evidence” to suggest that “elite sport policy is made within transmisogynist, misogynoir, racist, geopolitical cultural norms”.

In the past year, several sporting bodies have made decisions to ban trans athletes from elite sports, even after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) updated its policies on trans athletes to clarify that there should be no presumption that trans women have an automatic advantage in sports when competing against cisgender women.

When announcing these bans, sporting leagues often cite claims that a body undergoing male puberty carries certain advantages like increased lung size and bone density, but scientific literature finds no evidence to suggest that these factors create an advantage.

As this new report outlines, social factors like nutrition and training play a far greater role.


Most recently, the Scottish Rugby Union announced that they will ban trans women from participating in contact rugby in female competitions beginning on February 1, 2023.

When announcing their decision, the Scottish Rugby Union claimed that they were “…only imposing such eligibility restrictions based on the guidance provided,” but this new report suggests that trans women have been unfairly targeted.

Similarly in August 2022, the IRFU banned trans women from competing in the female contact category, with the decision coming “based on medical and scientific evidence and in line with World Rugby guidance.”

This policy was implemented despite only two trans women being registered in female contact rugby in the Republic of Ireland.

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