UK Athletics want to prevent transgender women from competing in women's categories

UK Athletics said it wants the women's category to be reserved for those who were designated female at birth. Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

UK Athletics want the women's category to be reserved for those who were designated female at birth to ensure fair competition while transgender athletes can compete in an "open" category alongside the men, the governing body said on Friday.

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

However, UKA said its hands are tied as they cannot prevent transgender athletes from competing in the women's category unless the government changes the law.

"UKA believes that efforts should be made to fairly and safely include transgender women in an "open" category, which would replace the current male category and be open to athletes of all sexes," it said in a statement on Friday.

"[Efforts should be made to] reserve the women's category for competitors who were female at birth, so that they can continue to compete fairly."

According to the Gender Recognition Act they are duty bound to "treat those trans women with a Gender Recognition Certificate as female for all purposes."

"UKA therefore requests that a legislative change is made to extend the sporting exemption," it added.

"This would enable UKA and other sporting bodies the ability to ensure the women's category can be lawfully reserved for female competitors."

The debate surrounding transgender athletes intensified last year when University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas became the first transgender NCAA champion in Division I history after winning the women's 500-yard freestyle.

Swimming's world governing body FINA voted to restrict the participation of transgender athletes in elite women's competitions, which led to several other sporting bodies doing the same.

UKA also said they did not agree with the use of testosterone suppression for transgender women.

"Scientific evidence ... is that transgender women retain a testosterone/puberty advantage over biological females regardless of the reduction of post puberty testosterone levels," UKA added.

"There is currently no scientifically robust, independent research showing that all male performance advantage is eliminated following testosterone suppression."