British Rowing bans trans athletes from elite female races

British Rowing has banned transgender athletes from competing in elite female races, but has created three different categories that allow transgender participation.

The new policy is set to come into effect on Sept. 11, British Rowing said Thursday.

British Rowing said only athletes who are "assigned female at birth" will be eligible to compete in its women's competitions and represent Britain or England in international events.

Apart from the women's category, all athletes will be eligible to compete in an "open" category, while a "mixed" category can be offered by organizers if 50% of crew are eligible from the women's category.

Transgender rights have become a major talking point in recent months as sports seek to balance inclusivity while ensuring there is no unfair advantage.

LGBTQIA+ advocacy groups say excluding trans athletes amounts to discrimination, while critics of transgender inclusion in women's sports say going through male puberty imbues athletes with a physical advantage that transition does not mitigate.

"British Rowing is committed to promoting an environment in which rowing is accessible and inclusive and to ensuring that we provide opportunities and enjoyment for everyone," the organization said in a statement. "In order to achieve this in a fair manner, we need to establish conditions for competition that guarantee fair and meaningful competition by placing necessary and proportionate restrictions on eligibility."

World Rowing allows transgender athletes to compete in the female category if they reduce their testosterone to below five nanomoles per liter for 12 months.

World Athletics, World Aquatics and cycling's governing body UCI are among global federations that have tightened their participation rules over the last couple of years. Soccer's world governing body FIFA is also reviewing its transgender eligibility policies.

Reuters contributed to this report.