British Rowing bans transgender women from female competitions

British Rowing bans transgender women from female competitions

British Rowing changes will come into force on 11 September.

Sam Montgomery

By Sam Montgomery

Published: 03/08/2023

- 21:15

The governing body cited ensuring ‘fair and meaningful competition’ as grounds to bar transgender athletes

Transgender athletes have been officially banned by British Rowing from taking part in the female category at events such as the Olympics and Paralympics.

The governing body said the decision had been the product of “extensive and ongoing research and consultation,” and will come into force on 11 September.

It is noted that transgender athletes who were born female and have not undergone hormone treatment will still be eligible to enter female races.

British Rowing have confirmed that all athletes, including transgender and non-binary individuals, are invited to compete in an ‘open’ category.

The British team celebrates with their silver medals for the Rowing Eight Women Final during day four of the European Championships 2022 in Munich, Germany on August 14, 2022.


Likewise, transgender athletes will be able to partake in the mixed category, so long as half the crew fall under the women’s category guidelines.

The governing body said: "British Rowing is committed to promoting an environment in which rowing is accessible and inclusive and to ensuring that we provide opportunities and enjoyment for everyone.

"In order to achieve this in a fair manner, we need to establish conditions for competition that guarantee fair and meaningful competition by placing necessary and proportionate restrictions on eligibility."

It added: "British Rowing is committed to the annual review of this policy and its procedures within 12 months of its most recent update to ensure that our approach is consistent with latest guidance, science, information, and studies.

"This will include, where possible, further dedicated rowing specific research into this area."

Great Britain's (from left) Annie Vernon, Debbie Flood, Frances Houghton and Katherine Grainger stand with the silver medals they won in the Women's Quadruple Sculls at the Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing Park during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, China.


The body continued: "All rowers are fully welcome in our sport, and we will not tolerate any form of discrimination so we urge the community to come forward should they experience any issues."

The new rules will come into effect at the end of the season in September and apply to athletes representing Great Britain or England at international events.

British Rowing had previously allowed transgender women to participate in female categories if their testosterone level had been below a given level for two years.

In March, World Rowing also reduced the permissible level of testosterone.


Great Britain's Helen Glover, (left) and Polly Swann prepare to head out onto the water during the Team GB Tokyo 2020 Rowing team announcement at the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake, Reading on Wednesday June 9, 2021.


However, the organisation still permits transgender athletes to compete under a certain testosterone level.

The latest British Rowing changes were confirmed after an extended period of policy review since 2020.

In this time, consultations took place with 4,500 members of organisations including Fair Play for Women, Stonewall and Mermaids.

Amendments on eligibility follow similar decisions made by other sporting bodies, such as British Cycling and World Athletics.

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