A scoping review of transgender policies in the 15 most commonly played UK professional sports

Michael McLarnon, Jane Thornton, Gail Knudson, Nigel Jones, Danny Glover, Andrew Murray, Michael Cummings, Neil Heron*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
89 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: There has been much debate recently on the participation of transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) athletes in sport, particularly in relation to fairness, safety and inclusion. The 2021 IOC Framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-discrimination acknowledges the central role that eligibility criteria play in ensuring fairness, particularly in the female category, and states that athletes should not be excluded solely on the basis of their TGD identity.

Aims: To identify policies that address TGD athlete participation in the 15 major United Kingdom (UK) sporting organisations and to summarise the evidence for each of these policies. Methods: A scoping review of TGD policies from the 15 major UK sporting organisations.

Results: Eleven of the governing bodies had publicly available TGD policies. Most of the sporting associations drew guidance from the official 2015 IOC Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism, particularly with regard to physiological testosterone levels. Many organisations referenced their policies as a guide for decision making but stated that they ultimately made case-by-case decisions on an athlete’s eligibility. Relevant considerations not addressed in most policies included pre- versus post-pubertal athletes, justification for testosterone thresholds, the length of time out of competitive action (if any) for transitioning athletes, the irreversible advantage from male puberty (if any), the responsibility for and frequency of follow up for hormonal testing and the consequences for athletes outside set testosterone limits.

Conclusions: There is a lack of consensus among the top 15 UK sporting organizations relating to elite sport participation for TGD athletes. It would be useful for sport organizations to work together to develop greater standardization/consensus for TGD athlete policies, taking into consideration fairness, safety and inclusion in each sport.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3568
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • Transgender
  • Transgender, gender non-conformity, heteronormativity, counter-heteronormativity, education, school, religion, Christianity
  • scoping review
  • inclusion
  • fairness
  • safety
  • Non-discrimination
  • Athletes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'A scoping review of transgender policies in the 15 most commonly played UK professional sports'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this