Dear World Rugby,
We the undersigned members of the athletic community call on World Rugby to stand with its transgender athletes and immediately adopt the International Olympic Committee’s 2015 Policies related to the participation of transgender athletes in the sport.
World Rugby’s mission, vision, and values are ideals we share. We too believe in the core values of integrity, respect, solidarity, passion, and discipline. It’s because of those shared values that we write to you today. Due to your current policies pertaining to transgender athletes, World Rugby is failing to live up to these values, and is failing to lead its community. You are shutting the door on skilled athletes and talented coaches. You’ve created an atmosphere that excludes an entire community of willing participants – and that’s not the culture we envision World Rugby leading.
Current World Rugby policies require transgender athletes to undergo a series of unnecessary, expensive, and sometimes unwanted surgical, medical, and legal barriers just to compete in the sport that they love. The current policy mirrors the 2003 Stockholm Consensus, which the International Olympic Committee has since overturned, stating “to require surgical anatomical changes as a pre-condition to participation is not necessary to preserve fair competition and may be inconsistent with developing legislation and notions of human rights”.
World Rugby policies are built on principles that claim it is “A Sport For All” and a sport built on principles such as “Respect”. Requiring athletes to choose between their gender identity and their sport is counter to everything for which sport stands. This is discrimination, but it can easily be remedied.
Sports federations have already created affirmative policies for transgender athletes, and there has never been a reported case of these guidelines causing harm or being abused. Organizations such as the International Swimming Federation, World Archery, World Curling Federation, World Badminton Federation, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have adopted policies that mirror the International Olympic Committee’s 2015 consensus guidelines. These updated policies allow athletes to play on the team consistent with their gender identity, given their hormone levels are within the established equitable range of the gender in which they wish to compete as.
Until World Rugby aligns with the International Olympic Committee’s 2015 guidelines, transgender athletes around the world will miss out on experiencing the joys of rugby. We respectfully request that World Rugby immediately update their policy for transgender athletes, and align themselves with the 2015 IOC Consensus. Transgender athletes can’t wait and neither can the sport of rugby. The global community this sport impacts deserves to play this sport authentically, wholeheartedly, and without fear of discrimination.