Transgender players now banned from international netball

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Netball’s governing body has released a new policy banning transgender players from international competition.

World Netball (WN) says it used evidence from “multiple distinct research groups around the world” in making its decision, which is being implemented with immediate effect.

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A number of global sports have been drawing up new policies in regards to transgender athletes, particularly relating to athletes born biologically male who are now competing as trans women.

There are no trans women currently competing in Australia’s Super Netball competition, but the ban means they won’t be allowed to represent their country should a transgender star emerge.

“Following a detailed review of the science and consultation with experts and members, it has determined that international women’s netball is a gender-affected activity and that a policy is required (to) ensure fairness and safety at this level of our sport,” World Netball said in a statement.

“World Netball believes that the research on which it has relied is robust; it comprises many research studies, all of which have been published in peer-reviewed journals and come from multiple distinct research groups around the world.”

While World Netball stated competitions below international level are free to make their own ruling, its new policy is partly being implemented due to the size and strength of athletes and the potential for injury.

“WN considers that International Level Women’s Netball is a very physically

demanding game that requires a high level of agility, strength and stamina from athletes where size, strength, power, and speed are crucial for performance,” the policy states.

“WN considers that International Level Women’s Netball involves frequent physical contact between athletes, including incidental contact in the air which creates an inherent risk to the safety of athletes and a likelihood of accident and injury.

“The size, strength, power and speed of athletes affect the risk of injury occurrence and the severity of injury sustained.”

It added the current evidence “strongly suggests there is retained physical advantage following the suppression of testosterone levels in those that have experienced the biological advantages of testosterone at any time in life”.

The issue shot to prominence through athletes like American Lia Thomas, who was an average swimmer in male college swimming before claiming titles in female events competing as a trans woman.

World swimming officials chose to create an “open” class at recent world championships for transgender athletes, but none came forward to compete.

The netball policy will be reviewed annually and could be changed pending any developments in research.

“World Netball is committed to evidence-based decision making and commits to evaluating any emerging evidence that pertains to elements of the policy,” the statement added.

“This includes any high-quality research that is published and which will inform a formal review of the policy.”

– with NCA Newswire

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