Athlete Ally Responds to Scottish Rugby’s Discriminatory Ban

January 25, 2023 — Athlete Ally responded today to news that the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) has banned transgender women and transgender girls aged thirteen and up from playing in the women’s league. Transgender men will face barriers to participation as well, including having to undergo a risk assessment coordinated by their club. This contradicts SRU’s previous policies which allowed trans women to participate under certain guidelines, and it follows similar bans from Welsh Rugby Union, International Rugby League (IRL), England Rugby (RFU) and Irish Rugby (IRFU) last year.

“We are horrified to see the SRU succumb to political pressure despite hard data and policies at the highest level of sport affirming that transgender elite women athletes have no inherent advantage in sport,” said Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director. “Rugby has long been a safe and inclusive space for all athletes. SRU’s cruel and discriminatory ban does nothing to address the real, documented threats against women’s sports. Instead, it furthers the marginalization of transgender people, who deserve to be treated fairly in all parts of their lives, including sports.” 

“International Gay Rugby is shocked and dismayed to see that Scottish Rugby has joined with the other National Unions in the British Isles to attack the rights of the trans community to participate in the sport of rugby,” said International Gay Rugby in a statement. “In a month where the Scottish Parliament passed historic legislation to support the right of trans people to live their lives with dignity, for the SRU to attack their right to participate in sport is sickening.”

“Scottish Rugby have been clear with us that there is a lack of relevant evidence-based research to support the decisions they are reaching, yet have still chosen to move forward to replicate the policy of the other UK and Irish unions,” said LEAP Sports Scotland. “And despite hearing experiences directly from trans people as part of the process, Scottish Rugby have chosen to focus on hardening regulation rather than improving access and participation pathways. We have consistently called for evidence-based policy-making and the centering of trans people’s voices at the heart of decision making and we are saddened and disappointed by this outcome announced today. This policy is a direct statement to trans people that they are not welcome in rugby across Scotland.”

“I am continually saddened to hear that rugby unions are closing their doors to transgender athletes,” said Jenny Kronish of the Harlequins FC. “The beauty of the game is that anyone can and should be allowed to play. As rugby grows at home and around the world, I hope we can expand its inclusivity as rugby is for all.“

Photo by Edgar Pimenta on Unsplash