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World Athletics Seeks Stricter Rules for Transgender Women

World Athletics Seeks Stricter Rules for Transgender Women

Women athletes

The sports organization may require lower testosterone levels than current rules allow.

World Athletics is in discussion with member federations about placing tighter testosterone restrictions on transgender women in track and field events.

What the sports organization calls the "preferred option" caps the “maximum amount of plasma testosterone for transgender women and those with differences in sex development at 2.5 nanomoles per liter — half of the current limit of 5 nanomoles,” Reuters reports. The athlete would have to remain at that level for two years instead of the current one. The recommendation is based on both new and earlier studies, according to World Athletics.

Cisgender women's testosterone levels average between 0.3 and 2 nanomoles per liter, with some variation for these amounts between different labs, the Mayo Clinic estimates. Numbers run higher for women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome, tending to a maximum reach of 5.2 nmol/L, while general cis male testosterone ranges from 8.3 mnol/L to 32.9 nmol/L.

No decision has been made, and World Athletics released a statement saying, “Putting forward a preferred option is the best way to gather constructive feedback, but this does not mean this is the option that will be presented to Council or indeed adopted.” The council governs World Athletics. The U.K.'s Telegraph has reported that the council will make a decision in March.

FIFA, soccer's governing body, has also said it will review its policies, after FINA, the swimming world's governing body, passed rules to ban transgender women from participating. Sebastian Coe, World Athletics' president, praised FINA's move.

Supporters of trans inclusion say there is insufficient data on transition’s impact on performance, plus there are few trans women athletes overall. Others say those assigned male at birth retain certain advantages even after transition if it takes place post-puberty.

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