January 23, 2023 Re: Fairness in Women’s Athletics Dear World Athletics members worldwide:
The International Consortium on Female Sport (ICFS) calls on World Athletics and its members to restore fairness for females in athletics.
The new draft policy issued by World Athletics allows male DSD and transgender athletes to compete in women’s events if they suppress their testosterone.
This does not restore fairness for females in athletics. All scientific evidence shows that testosterone suppression in adults cannot reverse the significant male differences in morphology and sport performance. The effects of androgens on the body are permanent.
ICFS calls on national federations governing athletics to reject the proposed policy for transgender athletes, and to demand that World Athletics reconsiders and consults with ICFS to ensure scientific accuracy and to include the voice of women in this matter.
Everyone in World Athletics knows the differences between male and female performance in speed, strength, and power. Whether athletes are the best in the world, youths in a junior talent pathway, or masters of all ages, male performance advantage is clear. It is not possible to remove this performance advantage.
Sebastian Coe has acknowledged that male performance advantage is immutable and a threat to women’s sport. DSD males registered female at birth are a tiny number, yet they have dominated some women’s events. Transgender is not the same as DSD, but it is the same principle of male advantage. No male advantage should be permitted in the female category. Adopting testosterone suppression to allow male bodies to compete in the women’s category is a flawed policy that harms female athletes and is in no way supported by science.
DSD athletes are typically from the developing world and assumed to be female from birth. Male athletes who identify as transgender are distinctly male at birth and are increasing in number in the developed world. These two groups are not the same.
Testosterone suppression doesn’t work. It is also completely unfit for use outside the special conditions of Olympic and World Championship events. Ninety-nine percent of sport is not Olympic or World class; it’s run by volunteers, with no anti-doping processes and is reliant on goodwill and voluntary compliance. Also, a transgender person cannot know their testosterone levels, nor whether missing medication has made a difference. So, there is no way anyone within the system can guarantee compliance.
Member federations must reject this proposed policy and adopt strict guidelines that protect the integrity of the women’s category and fairness for the female athlete. Eligibility for the women’s category must be restricted to those who are biologically female.
On behalf of women from around the world who have signed onto the ICFS and the many who are not, yet, aware that their participation in athletics is in jeopardy, we urge you to take this moment to reconsider and save women’s athletics for future generations of female participants.
Yours in Sport,
Founding Members, ICFS