Yesterday Australian sporting administrators placed the rights of males to play in women’s sport above the rights of females to their own sporting competitions.
Women’s sport exists to allow females to play with and against other females. The science of physical disparity between females and males is clear and unequivocal. Experts consulted by World Rugby have recently demonstrated that a biological male tackling a female causes a minimum of 20-30 per cent increased risk of injury to the female player. This research has been presented to Rugby Australia and should by now have been read and understood by all Australian sporting bodies.
Despite this evidence, eight major Australian sporting organisations yesterday announced that they had developed ‘inclusion’ policies that make it easier for biological males who identity as women to play women’s sport. These guidelines emerged out of the blue, with no consultation with the general public, women’s groups, or the millions of Australians who play community sport.
Inclusion in sport is important and that’s why we have men’s sport for males, women’s sport for females, junior sport for children and a range of mixed and social sport options. Removing female-only sport as a stand alone category is not inclusive, it is insulting and unfair.
The vast majority of Australians do not want to see safety and fairness in women’s and girls’ sport undermined. We would hate to see an Australian woman miss out on an Olympic medal because she was beaten by a biological male, a girl who has played netball her whole life miss out on selection in a Super Netball squad, or, just as importantly, our local girls footy team miss out on a premiership because the opposition has a dominant player with the physical advantages that result from male puberty.
Commonwealth law specifically recognises the need for single-sex sport, and the Australian taxpayer pours millions of dollars every year into encouraging female participation in sport. Yet Sport Australia, the organisation which receives and distributes much of this funding, won’t even say what their understanding of the word ‘woman’ is, and actively excludes women from consultation on who should be playing women’s sport.
Sporting organisations should expect very close scrutiny on why they have ignored scientific evidence about risks to safety and fairness of female athletes, and how they justify receiving taxpayer dollars to promote women’s sport while actively undermining the very basis of it.