Another Sport Bans Biological Males Like Lia Thomas From Women's Athletics

AP Photo/John Bazemore

For biological males planning to participate in women’s sports, the door just closed on another option.

On Tuesday, the International Rugby League made it official:


[M]ale-to-female (transwomen) players are unable to play in sanctioned women’s International Rugby League matches.

But it’s not necessarily the final word. The rule remains “until further research is completed to enable the IRL to implement a formal transgender inclusion policy.”

The association will “review and update rules about transgender participation in women’s International Rugby League.”

As for coming to its present conclusion, “several relevant developments in world sport” were considered.

Not the least of these was the IOC’s publication of its November 2021 Framework on Fairness, Non-Discrimination and Inclusion on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations.

The IOC concluded that it is the remit of each sport and its governing body to determine how an athlete may be at a disproportionate advantage compared with their peers – taking into consideration the differing nature of each sport.

The way the organization sees it, everyone is owed further inspection:

In the interests of avoiding unnecessary welfare, legal and reputational risk to International Rugby League competitions, and those competing therein, the IRL believes there is a requirement and responsibility to further consult and complete additional research before finalizing its policy. …

It is the IRL’s responsibility to balance the individual’s right to participate — a long-standing principle of rugby league and at its heart from the day it was established — against perceived risk to other participants, and to ensure all are given a fair hearing.


Concerning that balance, rugby isn’t known for its cuddles; male physical dominance could get very ugly, indeed. Speaking to the Sunday Times in 2019, one referee called to serious injury:

“Being forced to prioritize hurt feelings over broken bones exposes me to personal litigation from female players who have been damaged by players who are biologically male.”

Another ref added, “If you even ask the question, you are told you are a bigot.”

Former Olympian Sharron Davies contributed as well:

“My daughter Grace was told at the age of 11 she could no longer play with the boys because it was no longer safe. How can they have that rule in place and…say it is perfectly okay for a transgender woman who is a biological man to play with the girls, but girls who are girls are not allowed to play with the boys because it is dangerous?”

As for the IRL’s decision, it follows a major move on the part of the International Swimming Federation (FINA).

From NBC News Sunday:

World swimming’s governing body effectively banned transgender athletes from competing in women’s events on Sunday.

FINA members at the organization’s extraordinary general congress voted 71.5% in favor of its new “gender inclusion policy” that only permits swimmers who transitioned before age 12 to compete in women’s events.

The IRL said it will “work with the eight Women’s Rugby League World Cup 2021 finalists to obtain data to inform a future transwomen inclusion policy in 2023, which takes into consideration the unique characteristics of rugby league.”


The issue of transgenderism in athletics has hosted headlines for a number of years. It seems sports are only now, after many high-profile wins by biological males, in a responsive phase. In the beginning and for very long, no one appeared interested in impeding social progress. Might other leagues soon fall in line with the IRL and FINA? If so, where biological males such as Lia Thomas have triumphed, will their wins be recalled? Clearly, there’s a lot left to the story.

And make no mistake: Not everyone’s Team Rugby. Some sports may further sock it to cisgenderism:




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