ROME – The World Athletics Council, the international sports governing body, announced new rules that prohibit the participation of "male-to-female transgender athletes" from female competitions.
Sport governing body bars 'male-to-female transgender athletes' from female competition
In a statement published March 23, the association said it agreed "to exclude male-to-female transgender athletes who have been through male puberty from female World Rankings competition" effective March 31.
Sebastian Coe, the president of World Athletics, said that while such decisions involving "conflicting needs and rights between different groups" are always difficult, the sport governing body must nevertheless "continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations."
"We will be guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage which will inevitably develop over the coming years. As more evidence becomes available, we will review our position, but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount," Coe said.
The decision drew mixed reactions, with some LGBT activist organizations criticizing the decision as exclusionary.
However, others, including Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies, thanked World Athletics for "standing up for female athletes across the world who are worthy of fair sport."
"Trans athletes don't get to pick which category they want to go into. We ALL get to compete in the category we qualify for," Davies tweeted March 23.
In recent years, the Catholic Church has been more vocal in its stance on the issue of gender theory.
In 2019, the Congregation for Catholic Education – now known as the Dicastery for Culture and Education – released a document stating that concepts related to gender theory "aim to annihilate the concept of 'nature.'"
"The disorientation regarding anthropology which is a widespread feature of our cultural landscape has undoubtedly helped to destabilize the family as an institution, bringing with it a tendency to cancel out the differences between men and women, presenting them instead as merely the product of historical and cultural conditioning," the document stated.
Pope Francis has often highlighted a more pastoral approach to the issue and has met several times with trangender persons throughout his pontificate. However, he also has strongly opposed gender ideology, which promotes the concept that one's gender is a product of social construct rather than one’s biological sex.
In an interview published March 10 with the Argentine newspaper La Nacion, the Pope refuted claims he was asked to write a document on the theme of gender and said it was important to distinguish "between the pastoral care of people with different sexual orientations and gender ideology."
"Gender ideology, at this moment, is one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations. It goes beyond the sexual,” the Pope said. “Why is it dangerous? Because it dilutes differences, and the richness of men and women and of all humanity is the tension of differences."
The Pope recalled Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson's 1907 dystopian novel, "The Lord of the World," which he said presented a future not dissimilar from today's world where "differences are disappearing and everything is the same, everything is uniform."
"The issue of gender (ideology) is diluting the differences and making the world the same, all blunt, all equal. And that goes against the human vocation," he said.
Junno Arocho Esteves writes for OSV News from Rome.