Rugby Discriminates Against Transgender Women

Rugby has been known to be an inclusive and welcoming sport.  On October 9th, 2020, World Rugby made the decision that transgender women should not play for international or elite teams. The organization has released guidelines on participation after “compelling evidence” was presented. As rugby is a physical sport utilizing power and speed to win collisions, there is concern for the safety of players.  

2021 Rugby World Cup Launch Event : News Photo
Bill Beaumont, Chairman of World Rugby, in February. On October 9th, World Rugby announced their new guideline. (Source: Dave Rowland/Getty Images) 

This guideline is only a recommendation. A national union does not need to follow the recommendation during domestic competition. However, the likelihood of these guidelines influencing countries policies is very strong.  

Transgender individuals have trouble being able to participate in sport in the gender category that they identify with. A big concern over the past years, has been the “advantage” that transgender women would have. Even as the Canadian Centre for Sport Ethics (2012) deems this claim invalid in their document Sport in transition: Making sport in Canada more responsible for gender inclusivity, it is obvious that there is still discrimination towards transgender athletes.  

As sex-segregated sport remains, gender inequality continues to put transgender athletes at a significant disadvantage. Many transgender women transition in different ways, as some have more access to resources and healthcare. Because of the limited accessibility of these hormone treatments or surgeries, these regulations essentially limit the accessibility of the sport and therefore further discriminates against transgender individuals.  

This new guideline that World Rugby has put out is facilitating future discrimination towards transgender women. This highlights the question: how can a sport be viewed as inclusive while actively discriminating against a group of people? This effort to maintain an inclusive environment does not matter if they are creating policies that feed into the problem surrounding sex-segregated sports. 


Featured image: France and Italy scrum during a game. (Source: Caroline Léna Becker/Creative Commons)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s