We’re breaking transgender barriers in rugby, but there’ll be ...

Sport

We’re breaking transgender barriers in rugby, but there’ll be broken bones

ANALYSIS | In the amateur ranks science is clouded by ideological sensitivity, but they’re risking serious injury

Oliver Brown

Human physiology dictates that being born and growing up male confers some glaring, quantifiable advantages when it comes to rugby. In the men’s game, the forces exerted on the head and neck are 20% to 30% greater than on the women’s side owing to mass differences alone. At a time when anxieties over concussion and paralysis have never been so acute, World Rugby has consequently seen fit to ban transgender women from women’s rugby at international level, deeming the risk of significant injury “too great”.

Remarkably, that stance has been rejected this week by the Rugby Football Union, which is refusing to create any such barriers in the amateur ranks until more evidence is provided. In effect, the RFU, by refusing to accept the findings of the international federation, is kicking the can down the road.

A full data set on the physical superiority of transgender women on the rugby field would take years to compile. In the meantime, an untold number of female opponents could be put in unacceptable danger...

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