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Women in Sports

Women Space Vancouver stands in support of the sex-based rights of women and girls in sports. Women's sports have been sex-based for decades and must remain so to be fair and just to women and girl athletes.

Below is an article by Linda Blade, co-authour of UNSPORTING: How Trans Activism and Science Denial are Destroying Sport, offering insight into the monumental struggle for women's sex-based rights in sport and athletics that is currently playing out on the world stage and in Canada.

Linda Blade: International body upholds fairness for women in sport. Will Canada follow suit?

National Post


World Athletics now understands that there is no way to mitigate the enormous advantage that male-born transgender athletes have in women's sports

by Linda Blade, Mar 30, 2023

At its spring council meeting in Monaco on March 23, World Athletics (WA), the global governing body of athletics, announced that it would “exclude male-to-female transgender athletes who have been through male puberty from female World Rankings competition.”

With this one announcement, WA sent ripples across the sports world. As many federations look to WA for guidance on eligibility policy in sports requiring speed, power and endurance, the ruling is bound to have an influence on other sports.

American swimmer Riley Gaines, who was forced to compete against male-born Lia Thomas at the 2022 NCAA Championships, stated that, “As a woman of sport, I sincerely thank World Athletics and Seb Coe for prioritizing fairness and integrity in sports over so-called ‘inclusion’ … this decision is monumental and gives me hope for other (sports) organizations.”

It is significant that Gaines contrasted “fairness and integrity” with “inclusion,” because at the heart of this debate is a question over what principle takes precedence: inclusion or safety?

After an extensive review in 2021, the Sports Councils in the United Kingdom concluded that when it comes to males seeking to self-identify as women in gender-segregated sports, it is not possible to balance fairness and safety with inclusion.

Including male-born competitors in a women’s event is unfair — and potentially unsafe, in the case of contact sports — to the female athletes involved. The physical manifestations of male physiology, especially post-puberty, offer extraordinary competitive advantages over female characteristics when it comes to performance in sports.

After its review, World Athletics now understands that there is currently no known way to mitigate the enormous male advantage. Hormonal suppression doesn’t do it. Nor does reassignment surgery. So a decision had to be made and WA chose to prioritize fairness at the expense of including transgender athletes.


The impact on Canadian sports will be significant, particularly for Athletics Canada. Eligibility rules for WA- and World Para Athletics-sanctioned competitions will have to be revised immediately to comply with the new framework. Otherwise, athletes from Canada will not qualify for elite international events. Neither would Canada be cleared to host international competitions without complying with WA rules.

In domestic “grassroots” competitions, however, Athletics Canada is leaning towards inclusion. Its current policy states:

“In registering for a domestic competition, an athlete may select the category that best reflects their gender identity and sense of self.

“Coaches, officials, staff and volunteers must support an athlete’s right to select a competitive category that best matches their gender identity.”

There are three problems, however, that arise from the misalignment of domestic and international policies: philosophical, legal and jurisdictional.

If we are to accept the WA dichotomy of a choice between fairness and inclusion, Athletics Canada’s prioritization of “inclusion” means that it is choosing to be unfair to women and girls. Due to sex-based advantages, including male-bodied athletes in the female category is not only unfair but is bound to exclude women and girls from their rightful places on the podium, on national rankings and in domestic record books.

Presumably, greater inclusivity on the domestic front is an attempt to avoid discrimination on the basis of “gender identity” and “gender expression,” as mandated by Bill C-16.

On the other hand, doing so in sport is a form of sex discrimination against women and girls. Both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act forbid discrimination against girls and women on the basis of their sex.

Confusion and conflict at the provincial level is bound to ensue. What is to become of the Athletics Alberta policy, for example, that enforces sex-based boundaries that align more with international standards set by the WA and less with the Canadian recommendations?

Why should a provincial sports organization be forced to choose unfairness for the sake of a certain kind of “inclusion” that, in fact, excludes women and girls from their rightful placings and results?

These questions illustrate that even as the majority of people involved in track and field rejoice at the establishment of clarity and fairness for elite female athletes by World Athletics, we recognize that it opens an entirely new debate here at home.


Linda Blade is president of Athletics Alberta and co-author (with Barbara Kay) of the book, UNSPORTING: How Trans Activism and Science Denial are Destroying Sport (2021).

World governing body bans transgender women athletes, By Lori Ewing, March 23, 2023

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