Athlete Ally Responds to Discriminatory English Rugby Ban

July 29, 2022 — Athlete Ally responded today to news that England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU) has banned transgender women from playing in the women’s league. This follows news from June of this year that International Rugby League (IRL) banned transgender women from playing in women’s international matches until further notice.

“This ban from the RFU is heartbreaking, cruel and entirely ignores credible science in order to openly target transgender women as a result of dangerous misinformation and misguided fear,” said Athlete Ally Director of Policy and Programs Anne Lieberman. “Policies have been in place for decades at the highest levels of sport creating pathways for transgender women and girls to participate in the sports they love. Bans like the ones we have seen from Fédération internationale de natation (FINA), IRL and now RFU cause harm to all women because they create limiting definitions of excellence in women’s sport, and seek to control and scrutinize women’s bodies. 

We call on the RFU to rise above political pressure and employ a transparent and rigorous process to develop a policy that is truly inclusive. This is a clear distraction from what we know to be the real, documented challenges to women’s sports: unequal pay, sexual abuse and harassment, and a lack of women in leadership, to name only a few. Transgender women playing rugby are not a threat; sexism and lack of dedicated support for women athletes are.”