Rowing trans row over claims umpires can't question juniors' gender
Rowing faces fresh trans row as it is claimed umpires at women’s regattas are unable to question the gender of junior competitors
- Rowing umpires uproar as they are told not to query gender of junior athletes
- Affects all British rowing events including prestigious Henley Women’s Regatta
Umpires at women’s rowing regattas are unable to question the gender of junior competitors, it was claimed yesterday, prompting fears girls could lose races to male-born transgender rowers.
Rowing umpires were said to be in uproar after an adviser from the sport’s governing body briefed officials that they should not query the gender of any junior rowers, and that it should not form part of their assessment of fairness.
The rules affect all rowing events in Britain, including next month’s prestigious Henley Women’s Regatta.
A spokesman said the regatta was ‘obliged’ to stick to rules set by British Rowing. They state that boys under the age of 16 who identify as female can be approved to compete as female without medical evidence in some circumstances.
Umpires were told last month that they must accept whatever gender is entered for junior rowers on the British Rowing online entry system.
Umpires at women’s rowing regattas are unable to question the gender of junior competitors, it was claimed yesterday, prompting fears girls could lose races to male-born transgender rowers (file photo of Henley Regatta last June)
During a Thames Region briefing in Oxford, they were told not to query the gender of any under-16 rowers or consider gender in any assessment of fairness, the Daily Telegraph reported.
One unnamed official told the newspaper: ‘If we have a crew of what we think are junior boys and yet they declare as junior girls, then we just have to accept it.’
Umpire Carole-Ann Turner, who was at the briefing, said the rules meant every athlete in an under-16s category at women-only regattas could have been born male and umpires would be unable to challenge them.
She said crews took part in time trials with the fastest qualifiers going through to compete.
She told The Daily Telegraph: ‘If you have boys able to row with girls, then it’s likely to be all boy winners.
‘It is totally ridiculous that you could have a whole category at Henley Women’s being boys.’
She added: ‘A lot of umpires are very uncomfortable. All of the questions are based around the unfairness of it all, that it just shouldn’t be happening.
‘The fact that trans women can make an ass out of the law means that the law needs to be changed.’
Ms Turner, who coaches junior rowers, said physiological differences meant a ‘second-boat standard’ team of male-born rowers could beat their female counterparts at age 14 or 15.
She said umpires were supposed to ensure safety and fairness and were allowed to interpret rules to ensure fairness.
She said: ‘If you see something clearly unfair, you can change what would normally be standard procedure in order to make it fair.
‘And yet the fundamental issues of fairness around trans women, we’re not allowed to question.’
British Rowing rules mean that transgender rowers over the age of 16 can only compete in female categories if they can prove their testosterone levels are below fixed levels.
But for under-16s the rules state: ‘Due to the unique variance of physical and psychological development changes that take place during puberty, and the medical options available to adolescents, the eligibility panel may, where appropriate, consider and approve an application without medical evidence.’
The rules apply to all events run under the aegis of British Rowing, including next month’s Henley Women’s Regatta.
The rules affect all rowing events in Britain, including next month’s prestigious Henley Women’s Regatta (file photo of rowers in the River Thames in Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire)
A spokesman said: ‘The Regatta is run under British Rowing rules and as such, is obliged to abide by these rules.
‘Only rowers and scullers registered with British Rowing as female may enter Henley Women’s Regatta.
‘Male coxswains are permitted, in accordance with British Rowing rules allowing gender-neutral coxing.
‘Henley Women’s Regatta is proud to have been at the forefront of the development of women’s rowing since 1988.’ British Rowing did not respond to requests for comment.
It is currently considering banning transgender athletes from competing in women’s categories unless they were born female. A deadline for members to vote expires today with a decision expected later this month.
Its chairman Mark Davies has previously urged the sport’s global governing body to set up an open category for trans rowers.
Source: Read Full Article