Female swimmers need to feel safe

British Swimming’s Summer Championships made it into the mainstream media in July. Not because of the performances of any swimmers despite the fact that Imogen Clark’s 50m breaststroke time would have made finals in world aquatics in Japan. Instead, the pinnacle of a competitive development pathway was reported in mainstream media because of a now-common controversy. The achievements of swimmers – each of them having placed in the top 24 in their age group for each event – were ignored because a male official calling himself Anne Coombes had complained about being given the gender neutral changing room key at a Sheffield hotel despite presenting in women’s clothing. Continue reading “Female swimmers need to feel safe”

Sex, gender and inclusivity in sport: Senedd briefing

At the end of November we held a briefing event at the Senedd in partnership with Fair Play for Women. The private event was sponsored by Laura Anne Jones (thank you to Laura and her staff) and held under Chatham House rules in order to encourage open debate. We were absolutely delighted by the number of attendees, and particularly delighted that all political parties were represented, no doubt encouraged by our focus on finding ways to ensure that sports is truly accessible to all.

We heard from three expert speakers: rowing coach Jane Sullivan; Dr Jon Pike, Chair of the British Philosophy of Sport Association; and Fiona McAnena, Director of Sport at Fair Play for Women. The remainder of the session was given over to comments and questions from the attendees. They considered the particular barriers that women and girls face – cultural, social, biological, economic – and the need to balance fairness and safety alongside inclusion.

Continue reading “Sex, gender and inclusivity in sport: Senedd briefing”

Sex matters in sport!

The Welsh government wants to ensure LGBT people benefit from sport. We agree. Sport can make you feel good. It can help you stay healthy, physically and mentally. A lucky few can earn a good living through sport. But women are still massively under-represented. Teenage girls drop out at three times the rate of teenage boys. Professional women’s sport lags way behind men’s, with only a fraction of the sponsorship and earning power. Many sports bodies have explicit policies to attract, welcome and retain females in their sport, but there’s a long way to go. Continue reading “Sex matters in sport!”

British Cycling doesn’t care about women

British Cycling is notoriously uninterested in the women’s sport, or in the views of female cyclists.

Their draft Transgender and Non-binary Participation policy is breathtaking in its determination to prioritise the needs of men who identify as women over those of natal females. For example, staff and volunteers are required to:

  • Accept all Participants in the gender they present; verification of their identity should be no more than expected of any other person;
  • If asked, explain that there are no restrictions for Transgender and Non-Binary Participants taking part in Recreational Activity;
  • Support the Transgender or Non-Binary Participant with their choice of changing facilities.

Continue reading “British Cycling doesn’t care about women”

Women’s rugby and the RFU decision

Ball, Rugby, Field, Grass, Rugby Ball, Sport, PlayWe are dismayed and perplexed by the Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) decision to ignore scientific evidence and allow transwomen to compete in women’s club rugby in England.

World Rugby’s recent decision to prevent transwomen competing at elite level in the women’s game was based on detailed research and evidence of the increased risk of serious physical injury to women.

Research shows that even if transwomen lower their testosterone to the recommended level, they retain the physical advantages that going through male puberty confers. Continue reading “Women’s rugby and the RFU decision”