The World Boxing Council (WBC) has announced that athletes will be required to compete against those who share the same biological sex.
As the debate on the inclusion of transgender athletes continues, a number of sports have come to a conclusion on the matter whilst awaiting further scientific evidence on the advantages that could be gained by allowing trans-identifying males to compete against cisgender males, and vice versa.
Now, joining FINA, which oversees competitive swimming worldwide, and USA Powerlifting as professional sports organizations that have decided against permitting transgender athletes from competing against their stated gender identity is the WBC.
The organization is widely regarded as the most prestigious of the sport’s four major governing bodies, with the WBA, WBO, and IBF being the others. With that said, its recent statement will no doubt mark an important ruling for boxing.
In 2020, WBC President Mauricio Sulaimán made his own stance abundantly clear.
“Transgender is not accepted because there’s a difference between a man and a woman. The WBC does not accept transgender boxing,” Sulaimán said during an Instagram Live session. “There’s only male and female, there’s no in between. People say it has to be the same – so you mean we have to do pregnancy tests for men as well? I mean, it’s a really big difference.” (h/t talkSPORT)
With those comments in mind, it’s perhaps unsurprising that a recent WBC convention resulted in a firm ruling on the participation of transgender boxers.
WBC Announces Ban, President Proposes Exclusive League
In a statement released by the WBC earlier this week following its latest set of debates, the governing body explained its decision to prevent transgender boxers from competing against their cisgender counterparts.
The guidelines began by reiterating that the WBC is committed to ‘championing’ and ‘protecting’ transgender individuals, and insisted that it “unequivocally” supports trans rights.
“The World Boxing Council (WBC) firmly and unequivocally supports transgender rights and recognizes the gender identity of an individual athlete. This commitment is grounded in the WBC values of inclusion… The WBC shall continue to champion to protect transgender individuals against discrimination at their workplace, in employment, education and access to healthcare.”
But with emphasis on “fair” competition that pits two equally matched athletes against each other, the WBC has taken the decision to prohibit transgender boxers from competing against athletes other than members of their biological sex, citing a lack of evidence to suggest that no advantage is gained.
“The WBC is committed to its value of fair competition. A combat sport bout should occur between two equally matched competitors. At present there is no consensus whether a bout between a transgender woman against a cisgender (biological) woman is a fair bout between two equally matched competitors. Metric such as testosterone level less than 10 nanomoles per liter (achieved by using testosterone suppression medication in the transgender woman), in isolation is inadequate to ensure fairness at the time off the bout.
“It can be argued that by the time a transgender woman combatant launches her professional career she has already gone through male puberty thus conferring her with the musculature and bony structure of a male. So, a transgender woman combatant may have an unfair advantage over her cisgender woman combatant.”
The above guideline was repeated to also cover transgender males competing against cisgender males.
The statement concluded by mentioning the health concerns present in boxing and the importance of keeping athletes safe — something that the WBC doesn’t believe it would be doing by allowing transgender boxing.
“Combat sports such as boxing are unique since every punch thrown at the head is thrown with the intention of winning by causing a knockout (which is nothing but a concussive head injury). Resulting these sports carry an exceedingly high risk for both acute and chronic neurological injuries. Boxers have died during a bout or in the immediate aftermath due to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) such as an acute subdural hematoma (SDH), epidural hematoma (EDH), subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), intracranial hematoma and injury to the great vessels of the neck such as carotid or vertebral artery dissection.
“The WBC advocates for two equally skilled and matched athletes competing in the cage or ring, on a level playing field and to keep matches fair, competitive, entertaining, and most importantly safe for all combatants. At present level of scientific knowledge, the WBC consensus is that allowing transgender athletes to compete raises serious health and safety concerns.”
Whilst the guidelines went on to note that the WBC will continue to utilize professional research to have a “greater understanding” of the matter, the body’s president is seemingly looking for long-term solutions to the matter.
In an interview with IZQUIERDAZO earlier this month, Sulaimán noted that the WBC is considering the creation of a special league for transgender fights.
“We are considering the proposal of creating a league for transgender boxing fights. We are having a continuous forum. What we are looking for is to prevent the danger of a potential accident in the ring.” (h/t 3Kings Boxing)
Do you agree with the WBC’s ruling to ban transgender athletes?