'Disappointed' | 

Equality group says IRFU ban on transgender women would ‘negatively impact’ players

The IRFU is currently carrying out a review of its transgender policy after the English RFU to no longer allow transgender women to compete in female contact leagues.

A general view of the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. Picture date: Sunday November 21, 2021.© PA

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

An equality network group has said that they would be “very disappointed” if the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) decide to ban on transgender women competing in rugby games.

The IRFU is currently carrying out a review of its transgender policy and it is understood it may follow a recent decision by the English RFU to no longer allow transgender women to compete in female contact leagues.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Transgender Equality Network Ireland Education Officer Daire Dempsey said that a “blanket ban” on transgender women in Irish rugby would have a “hugely negative impact” on trans players.

“We have been following the IRFU as it develops but we would obviously be very disappointed in a blanket ban on trans women in rugby,” they said.

“My understanding is that a blanket ban on trans women in Irish rugby would affect three or maybe five players across the country.

“The impact that ban would have on these players who just want to play and just like rugby - who are valued members of their local clubs - is going to be huge.

“It’s going to have a hugely negative impact on any trans person who wants to play sport, not even necessarily to compete but just want to play sport, and it is not going to have much of an impact on women’s sport overall, again because we are looking at such small numbers of players.

Daire continued: “We are talking 1pc of the population, maybe, is trans.

“Then a smaller percentage obviously would be trans women, then a smaller percentage again would be doing any sport and then, there are even less in any one sport.

“So, we’re not talking about a huge movement of people into women’s sport. We’re not talking about changing the face of women’s sport. Really, we’re talking about a handful of players in any one sport and this whole controversy has erupted because of one person.”

The IRFU has reportedly been in contact with LGBTQ+ organisations as it reviews its transgender policy based on “emerging data” on player welfare.

“The IRFU has been delighted to assist several transgender men and women to play domestic game rugby in recent years,” a spokesperson said.

“Our transgender policy is currently under review, based on emerging data and advice in the area of player welfare.

“The evolving debate on transgender people in sport is extremely challenging, particularly for the transgender community and their families.

“Therefore, any changes to our transgender policy would be communicated to those directly affected first, with a commitment to identifying ways to keep them involved as valued members of the wider rugby family.”


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