Sat, Aug 10, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Australian PM calls cricket transgender policy ‘mystifying’

Reuters, SYDNEY

Cricket Australia (CA) have come under fire for a policy aimed at making the sport inclusive for transgender and gender-diverse players, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday describing it as “heavy-handed” and “mystifying.”

CA on Thursday issued two policies, one setting out the rules for “Elite” cricket, which they said was closely aligned with the 2017 International Cricket Council guidelines, and the other for “Community Cricket.”

While the “Elite” policy demands that trans women must reduce their testosterone levels over 12 months to compete in women’s cricket, the “Community” policy requires only a nomination of a gender identity.

There was an immediate backlash on social media, with some critics lambasting the governing body for progressive posturing, but the majority accusing CA of undermining women’s sport.

Morrison waded into the debate in a radio interview with conservative pundit Alan Jones, saying that the mandatory policies were unnecessary, at least on the grassroots level.

“I think it’s pretty heavy-handed to put it pretty mildly,” Morrison said. “And I’m sure these issues have been quite carefully and practically managed at a club level already, and so why there is that necessity to get the sledgehammer out on this is mystifying me.”

CA’s policy initiative followed Sport Australia’s launch last month of “Trans and Gender Diverse Inclusion” guidelines for all sports in the nation.

The inclusion of transgender athletes in elite women’s sport has become the subject of huge controversy, with critics arguing that being born male gives an unfair physical advantage, even after transition.

Advocates argue that the process of transition decreases that advantage considerably and that physical differences between athletes inside sex classes mean there is never a truly level playing field.

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard’s gold-medal-winning performance for New Zealand in women’s events at the Pacific Games in Samoa last month became a lightning rod for criticism in the region.

Hannah Mouncey, an Australian transgender athlete who was part of CA’s consultation process, said they had set the standard.

“It’s quite easily the best in the world at the elite level and I don’t think we’ll see a better policy come out anywhere,” she told the Canberra Times on Thursday.

“It’s brought together all the best bits of other policies and created one that’s specific to cricket,” she added. “There has to be an elite pathway [for transgender and gender-diverse people] that’s something which shouldn’t be denied to someone just because they’re different.”

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