Equal rights for transsexuals to stop short at sport

Sporting bodies have secured a right to ban transsexuals with a new exemption proposed for new equal rights legislation, it was revealed last week.

After lobbying by UK Sport and the International Olympic Committee an amendment has been proposed to the Gender Recognition Bill, which would enable the UK sports authorities to continue making decisions about whether individual transsexual people might take part in sports competitions. Under the proposals, published two months ago, transsexuals would be able get new birth certificates if they are diagnosed as suffering from “gender dysphoria”.

Constitutional affairs minister, Lord Filkin said that the amendment was “designed to ensure sporting bodies can uphold safe and fair competition”. “In the same way as a sporting body is perfectly entitled to exclude a person taking performance-enhancing drugs, for reasons of competitive parity, they would be entitled to exclude a male-to-female transsexual person if competitive parity or the safety of other competitors was at stake,” he continued. “Sporting bodies already deal with the issues raised by the participation of transsexual sportspeople, and this Bill will not affect the flexibility that sporting bodies have.”

The most famous transsexual athlete is Richard Raskind, who underwent a sex-change operation to become Renee Richards, the tennis player. UK cycling accepted a transsexual competitor at the highest level of time trialing despite a petition from more than 300 women cyclists. The cyclist was accepted by the Cycling Time Trial Council after having persuaded their medical commission that she had no unfair advantage. Another transsexual was refused and took the body to an industrial tribunal. Phil Heaton, the CTTC’s general secretary, complained that the Bill “without any exemptions” could “ruin women’s sport completely”. “A top man could wait a couple of years and then compete unchallenged as a woman,” he was reported to have said. “It would be a massive problem for sport.”