Sports

Can Transgender Players Compete In Women's Cricket - ICC Board Approves New Rules To Protect Integrity, Promote Players' Safety

ICC barred players who experienced male puberty from competing in international women's cricket to provide safety and protect the integrity of the sport

A cricket match going on between Sri Lanka and the Indian women's cricket team
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In a major policy decision, the ICC on Tuesday barred cricketers, who have been through any form of male puberty, from competing in international women's games regardless of whether or not they have undergone surgery or gender reassignment treatment. (World Cup 2023 | Cricket News)

The ICC said it was taking the decision to protect the integrity of international women's game and the safety of players.

In a statement, the ICC said, "The ICC Board approved new gender eligibility regulations for the international game following a nine-month consultation process with the sport's stakeholders.

"The new policy is based on the following principles (in order of priority), protection of the integrity of the women's game, safety, fairness and inclusion, and this means any Male to Female participants who have been through any form of male puberty will not be eligible to participate in the international women's game regardless of any surgery or gender reassignment treatment they may have undertaken."

Gender reassignment and treatment have been a hotly-debated topic in world athletics for years.

ICC arrived at the decision at its Board meeting in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.

Asked what was the trigger for ICC to bring about this change, a source said it was due to "cricket's inclusion in the 2028 Olympics."

"Since cricket will be an Olympic sport, it has to be governed by the Olympic guidelines. This gender issue is a huge one at the global level. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has changed regulations and advised sports to implement regulations that are suitable for their sport, which is what we have done," said an ICC source.

World Athletic (WA), the governing body for track and field and other running competitions, had also barred transgender women, who went through male puberty, from competing in women's events at international competitions. 

The policy took effect on 31 March 2023.

WA also ruled that to compete as a woman, athletes must have a testosterone level below 2.5 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) for at least 24 months before an international competition.

South African runner Caster Semeneya was barred from competing precisely for this reason as testosterone levels in her body were more than the prescribed limit.

World governing bodies for cycling (UCI) and swimming (FINA) have also introduced the same regulation in their sport while World Rugby has an outright ban on trans women in international women's rugby.

The ICC, while firming up rules for gender eligibility for international women's cricket, left the issue at the domestic level in the hands of the member boards.

"The review, which was led by the ICC Medical Advisory Committee chaired by Dr Peter Harcourt, relates solely to gender eligibility for international women's cricket, whilst gender eligibility at domestic level is a matter for each individual Member Board, which may be impacted by local legislation. The regulations will be reviewed within two years," said the ICC.

ICC Chief Executive Geoff Allardice said the world governing body had arrived at the decision following "extensive consultations".

"The changes to the gender eligibility regulations resulted from an extensive consultation process and is founded in science and aligned with the core principles developed during the review.

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"Inclusivity is incredibly important to us as a sport, but our priority was to protect the integrity of the international women's game and the safety of players," said Allardice.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executives' Committee (CEC) endorsed a plan to accelerate the development of women match officials, which includes equal match-day pay for ICC umpires across men's and women's cricket, and ensuring there is one neutral umpire in every ICC Women's Championship series from January next year.

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