The International Cricket Council has become the latest sports body to ban transgender players from the elite women’s game if they have gone through male puberty.
The ICC said it had taken the decision, following an extensive scientific review and nine-month consultation, to “protect the integrity of the international women’s game and the safety of players”.
It joins rugby union, swimming, cycling, athletics and rugby league, who have all gone down a similar path in recent years after citing concerns over fairness or safety.
Explaining the sport’s decision, the ICC chief executive, Geoff Allardice, said: “The changes to the gender eligibility regulations resulted from an extensive consultation process and is founded in science and aligned with the core principles developed during the review.
“Inclusivity is incredibly important to us as a sport, but our priority was to protect the integrity of the international women’s game and the safety of players.”
The new policy comes just two months after Canada’s Danielle McGahey caused controversy by becoming the first transgender cricketer to take part in an official international match during a women’s T20 fixture against Brazil.
The 29-year-old opening batter played all six of Canada’s matches during the Women’s T20 World Cup Americas region qualifiers event in Los Angeles, to add to national team appearances previously in fixtures which did not hold official ICC status.
Under the ICC’s previous regulations, which were based on reducing testosterone levels, McGahey had satisfied all of the eligibility criteria. However the ICC said that its new rules would be based on the following principles, in order of priority: “protection of the integrity of the women’s game, safety, fairness and inclusion”.
“This means any male to female participants who have been through any form of male puberty will not be eligible to participate in the international women’s game regardless of any surgery or gender reassignment treatment they may have undertaken,” it added.
The new policy, which was led by the ICC medical advisory committee and chaired by Dr Peter Harcourt, relates solely to international women’s cricket. Individual countries will be allowed to have their own policies for the domestic game.
The England and Wales Cricket Board said it will consider how the new ICC regulations impact its own policy. An ECB spokesperson said: “We continue to review our transgender policy, considering inclusivity, safety and fairness, and will consider these new ICC regulations as part of this work.”
Meanwhile, the Football Association is working to find a resolution after a transgender player quit football due to rival clubs refusing to play against her. Teams reportedly withdrew from matches against South Yorkshire-based side Rossington Main Ladies after a shot by Francesca Needham led to an opponent suffering a season-ending knee injury. Rossington play in the first division of the Sheffield and Hallamshire Women and Girls League – the seventh tier of women’s football in England.
“We are working with Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA to find a resolution,” read an FA statement. “This issue is complex and constantly evolving and, like many other national governing bodies in sport, we are currently reviewing our transgender policy for English football to ensure it is inclusive, fair and safe for all.”
According to the FA’s policy, transgender players may apply to compete in a league of their “affirmed gender”. Applications are assessed on an individual basis, based on fair competition and the safety of the applicant and other players.
“As some of you may have heard, Rossington Main Ladies FC has faced challenges from teams unwilling to play against us while I am on the field,” Needham wrote on Facebook. “This unfortunate circumstance has prompted me to investigate pursuing a case of discrimination, as I believe it represents a breach of the code of conduct regarding diversity and inclusion.
“In the best interests of my club and my supportive teammates, I have made the decision to step down from playing football for the foreseeable future. This decision has not been made lightly.”