Elite Women in British Sports Are Uncomfortable Competing with Trans Women But Fear Saying So

The BBC conducted a survey of 615 elite women athletes in Britain to ask them how they felt about competing against trans women. Of the 143 who responded, more than 100 said they were uncomfortable with the idea.


More than 100 elite British sportswomen have told the BBC they would be uncomfortable with transgender women competing in female categories in their sport.

But many have expressed fears over sharing their opinion publicly because of concerns they would be seen as discriminatory.

One told the BBC “your career is over” if you speak on the subject, while another said: “You can receive abuse if you support it or don’t support it. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”…

In total, 104 athletes said they feel “uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” about transgender women competing in the female category in their sport. Only 11 said they feel comfortable or very comfortable.

Asked how they would feel speaking publicly on the topic, 96 said they felt uncomfortable or very uncomfortable.

So among those who responded the outcome was roughly 10 to 1 against allowing trans women to compete against women. And the number who felt uncomfortable discussing it was similar. Given the one-sided numbers involved, it seems likely that those who chose not to respond were also in the camp that felt uncomfortable talking about this, even anonymously. 

One woman who did respond told the BBC that trans women create and “unfair playing field.” Another expressed frustration that just as women’s sports seemed to be gaining in visibility, the trans issue was leaving women athletes “marginalized again.” A third woman said allowing trans women to compete with women would “be the end” and compared it to “going back in time.”


Despite not wanting to compete with trans women, many of those who responded wanted to preserve the ability of everyone to compete and suggested adding and “open” category for trans women.

The BBC points out that, at present, “World Athletics, World Aquatics, World Rugby and the International Cricket Council” have all banned trans women from competition. And in the UK, British Cycling, the Rugby Football Union and UK Athletics have done likewise.

The consensus seems to be reflected in British politics at the moment also. Two years ago when Labour’s Keir Starmer was asked about trans women competing in women’s sports he dodged the question.

Asked by a caller whether it was fair that transgender women were allowed to compete in women’s sports, Sir Keir said it was a matter “for the sporting bodies to decide for themselves”, acknowledging that there were “difficult questions”.

This was around the time Starmer was struggling to answer the question What is a woman? and was refusing to say whether a woman could have a penis. But two years later, now that the decision has in fact been made by most sporting bodies without his input, Starmer has bravely come out to say he supports not allowing trans women to compete against women. “In the end, common sense has to prevail” he said

Speaking after announcing his party’s plans to get more girls active during a visit to a school in his Holborn and St Pancras constituency, Starmer told Telegraph Sport: “I think the important thing is that the sports governing bodies take a lead on this. And they are doing that, and we’re supportive of what they’re doing, particularly in elite sport. So, that’s where the decision should be taken. They’ve taken a number of decisions. And, in the end, common sense has to prevail in terms of safety and integrity of sport.”

Starmer’s comments come almost two years after he declined to state whether Thomas, the swimmer at the centre of one of sport’s biggest trans storms, should be allowed to compete at the Olympics.

In an appearance on LBC, he also refused to say whether a woman could have a penis or whether trans women should be banned from using female changing rooms.


Common sense should prevail, but why couldn’t he have said that two years ago? What a profile in courage he is. Here’s a discussion of Starmer’s recent u-turn on this subject.



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