Draft FAQ's


1. Why is the University doing this? 

The University is committed to encouraging participation in sport and recreation by all students and staff members - including those who are trans or gender diverse - recognising the joys and benefits that participation can provide, the importance of fair play and respect, the value of sport and recreation that is fair, safe, and open to everyone 

This in line with University commitments to being safe, inclusive and equitable.  As such, its Inclusion of Trans and Gender Diverse Students and Staff in Sport and Recreation Policy and Guidelines promote participation in sport and recreation without discrimination, and based on self-defined gender identity

2. What is the law in this area? 

Discrimination against trans and gender diverse people because of their gender identity falls under the prohibited ground of sex in the Human Rights Act 1993 (HRA) 

Discrimination is unlawful when it occurs in an area of public life set out in the HRA and there is no relevant exception 

These areas of public life include the provision of goods and services (including sport and recreation services) and employment (including the employment of coaches and referees) 

In addition, the University cannot unlawfully discriminate against trans and gender diverse people because of their gender identity when exercising any of its public powers or functions, including when developing or implementing its policies

3. How is this fair? Males are physically stronger than females – having a trans woman in a team will give that team an unfair advantage 

Often decisions to exclude or restrict trans women’s participation in women’s sport assume that they will have an unfair competitive advantage because of their levels of testosterone, or their physique or muscle mass.  However, there is significant overlap between men and woman in each of these areas. This means that many women are as tall, as strong and as fast, as many men 

Exposure to testosterone does not necessarily make a person better at sport. For example, an article published in August 2014 in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism states that “there is no clear scientific evidence proving that a high level of testosterone is a significant determinant of performance in female sports”.[1] Studies also suggest that testosterone levels are dynamic, depending on many factors. Even if testosterone does increase performance in some sports, other factors that also affect sporting ability including fitness, training, age, limb length, body shape, and experience[2] 

Even at the most elite Olympic level of sport, the strongest statement the International Olympic Committee (IOC) makes is that testosterone “may provide a competitive advantage in sports” [italics added].[3] This 2012 IOC regulation does not elaborate on when, or how much, competitive advantage may be obtained, nor on which sports may or may not be affected 

A 2017 systematic literature review concluded that: “Within competitive sport, the athletic advantage transgender athletes are perceived to have appears to have been over interpreted by many sport organisations around the world . . . there is no direct and consistent research to suggest that transgender female individuals (and transgender male individuals) have an athletic advantage in sport and, therefore, the majority of competitive sport policies are discriminatory against this population”[4] 

A July 2015 ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport found that “there is no available evidence...as to the quantitative effect on female athletic performance of levels of endogenous testosterone”[5] 

In 2016, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health published a report on sport and healthy lifestyles as contributing factors to the right to health. The report recommended that States “protect the physical integrity and dignity of all athletes, including intersex and transgender women athletes, and immediately remove any laws, policies and programmes that restrict their participation or otherwise discriminate or require them to undergo intrusive, unnecessary medical examinations, testing and/or procedures in order to participate in sport”.[6]  

4. Some people will cheat and participate as a female when they don’t actually identify as female 

Transitioning or affirming gender is a deeply personal decision and is not something done on a whim 

There is no evidence at the international level of boys or men ‘changing gender’ to reap rewards in women’s sport

5. How will privacy be maintained in changing rooms? 

There are a number of different areas and screens in the recreation centre changing rooms, to help ensure privacy 

Plans for the new recreation centre include booths to assist with privacy 

6. This raises privacy issues associated with my religion/beliefs 

There are a number of different areas and screens in the recreation centre changing room, to help ensure privacy 

Plans for the new recreation centre include booths to assist with privacy  

7. What are my options if I don’t feel safe? 

Anyone who has questions or concerns should speak to Recreation Centre staff 

You can also contact the Equity Office


[1] Bermon et al. ‘Serum Androgen Levels in Elite Female Athletes’, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 99:11, 2014 

[2] In addition, many of the effects of testosterone are reversed if levels are reduced, and not all the effects are generated if testosterone is administered to trans men or gender diverse people only after puberty

[3] International Olympic Committee, Regulations on Female Hyperandrogenism, 2012.  Retrieved at: https://stillmed.olympic.org/Documents/Commissions_PDFfiles/Medical_commission/2012-06-22-IOC-Regulations-on-Female-Hyperandrogenism-eng.pdf. These regulations were developed for female athletes with an intersex variation that results in naturally occurring, higher testosterone levels

[4] BA Jones, J Arcelus, WP Bouman, E Haycraft, ‘Sport and Transgender People: A Systematic Review of the Literature Relating to Sport Participation and Competitive Sport Policies’ Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 47(4), 2017, pp.701–716. Retrieved at: http://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0621-y

[5] Court of Arbitration for Sport, Interim Arbitral Award, 24 July 2015, pp.150.  Retrieved at: www.tas-cas.org/fileadmin/user_upload/award_internet.pdf. Based on that evidence, the Court temporary suspended the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) hyperandrogenism rule, that had barred women with high natural testosterone levels from competing as women. The Court has indicated that, in order to reinstate the regulation, the IAAF must show that female athletes with higher total testosterone have a performance difference that approximates the level of advantage male athletes typically have over female athletes. The Court suggested this would require evidence of between a 10-12 per cent competitive advantage. A subsequent study undertaken by IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency has found much smaller effects, Stephane Bermon, Pierre-Yves Garnier, ‘Serum androgen levels and their relation to performance in track and field: mass spectrometry results from 2127 observations in male and female elite athletes’, http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2017/07/12/bjsports-2017-097792 . The IAAF had until the end of September 2017 to file new evidence with the Court, in its attempt to reinstate the hyperandrogenism rule. Source: http://www.cecileparkmedia.com/world-sports-advocate/hottopic.asp?id=1525  

[6] United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, A/HRC/32/33, 2016, para 101(i)