What is it about?

The last five years have seen a shift in orientation towards the participation of trans women and non-binary athletes in women's sporting competition. Led significantly by a group of sport theorists who identify as gender critical, the shift has been towards exclusion of these athletes from women's competitions. This policy position has now been taken up by World Rugby, FINA, British Triathlon and International Rugby League, and is being considered by a number of other federations. This paper argues that three of the pillars of the gender critical position will lead to conservative outcomes for women's sport that will not support greater power for either women or trans women.

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Why is it important?

This is a theoretical paper that argues that a cap-tied system of sex/gender regulation in sport will be more useful in supporting alliances between women and trans women/gender non-binary athletes. These alliances may be better able to support greater power for women in sports. A cap tied system decides eligibility on a case by case basis taking into account both anthropometric measures and past playing experience.


This article helped to focus my position in terms of this issue. Gender critical positions have offered strong arguments for exclusion of trans women from women's sport and inclusion into open categories. I hope that my article will contribute to resolving this debate in ways that support feminist outcomes related to reducing male power in sport.

Dr. Michael Burke
Victoria University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Trans women participation in sport: a commentary on the conservatism of gender critical feminism, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, July 2022, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/19406940.2022.2101503.
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