Criteria for trans women in sport 'needs to be addressed' - TENI

'We need to step back and look at society's view of transgender people'
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.06 25 Mar 2022

Share this article

Criteria for trans women in sp...

Criteria for trans women in sport 'needs to be addressed' - TENI

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.06 25 Mar 2022

Share this article

The criteria for trans women to participate in women's sport needs to be addressed.

That's according to chair of the board of TENI - Transgender Equality Network Ireland - Sarah Phillips.

She was speaking after Olympian Sonia O'Sullivan said transgender people 'without a doubt' have an unfair advantage in sport.


"It's on the fringes of sport at the moment - but it's something that a lot of people are wondering about, if it's something that should be allowed or not in women's sport, Ms O'Sullivan told Newstalk on Thursday.

"That a male who becomes a transgender woman, are they allowed to then compete against biological women?

"With the science behind it all, it just doesn't make sense that they should be allowed to do that," she added.

Sarah told The Hard Shoulder the debate should be viewed by how society treats transgender people generally.

"The Olympic Committee addressed this 11 years ago and put in rules around it.

"But clearly, in that period of time, we haven't seen this onslaught of trans athletes come out of the woodwork to try and win all of these medals that people are saying we're going to do.

"From a scientific point of view and a biology point of view, there is conversation pieces that we need to have.

"Yes we need to look at the biology, we need to look at the science - but I would argue that there is a lot of evidence out there you can put against what evidence we bring in."

'One individual moment'

Sarah says the debate seems focused on one or two individuals.

Citing the example of Laurel Hubbard, the first known transgender person to participate in the Olympics, Sarah notes she didn't win any medals.

"Constantly this happens - that we pick one individual moment - and I think it's good to have the conversation.

"We have to ensure that transgender athletes can participate in sport.

"What I think we need to do is step back and look at society's view of transgender people generally, before we start looking at our participation in any form of society whatever".

She says: "The point is what is wrong with one woman winning a medal?

"This is again going back to how trans people - specifically trans women - are treated within society.

"What you're basically saying is that that trans woman is not a woman, you're saying that that trans woman is a man.

"And that's what's key here that we need to address: generally society haven't got that far in their thinking, and we need to look at that.

"Why are we picking one moment when a transgender woman, who happens to excel within a sport, has won a medal?

"We can go back and say the same thing when black women were excluded within the sport.

"When that first black woman won a medal did we say 'This is inherently [un]fair on all the white women who were competing before that'".

And she adds: "I think we do need to address what is the criteria that trans women can participate within women's sport, the same way as every other woman can".

'A separate category'

Earlier Irish champion powerlifter Rehana Manier said she 'felt cheated' after losing to a transgender woman in 2018.

She earlier told Newstalk she didn't realise who she was up against.

"I had an experience a couple of years ago, at a World Championships in 2018, I was competing there for Ireland.

"I was up against a transgender, which I didn't actually realise at the time.

"You go and check the board to see what your competitors are lifting at, and see what you need to go in to win.

"I got beaten by a transgender and [they] took my world records, which I was very disappointed with.

"I felt cheated, to be honest, that this had happened to me.

"Genetically men are obviously stronger than women; so I felt at a very unfair disadvantage".

Rehana says a new category should be brought in.

"I really think it's unfair to the athletes, to the women of the world, and it just seems to be getting more and more disappointing for the women who we train so hard for - especially as professional athletes.

"I think there should be a separate category, personally, it's uproar all over the world - it's terrible".

Criteria for trans women in sport 'needs to be addressed' - TENI

00:00:00 / 00:00:00


Main image: Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand is seen at the Commonwealth Games in April 2018. Picture by: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Share this article

Read more about

Laurel Hubbard Rehana Manier Sarah Phillips Sonia O'Sullivan TENI The Hard Shoulder Transgender Transgender Equality Network Ireland Transwomen

Most Popular