Transgender athletes banned from playing international women’s cricket by ICC

Transgender players who have been through male puberty will not be able to play international women’s cricket under new gender eligibility regulations announced by the International Cricket Council.

In September, Canada’s Danielle McGahey became the first transgender cricketer to take part in an official international match when she featured in a Women’s T20 fixture against Brazil.

The 29-year-old opening batter went on to play all six of Canada’s matches during the Women’s T20 World Cup Americas region qualifiers event in Los Angeles, to add to national team appearances previously in fixtures which did not hold official ICC status.

Transgender athletes have been banned from taking part in elite women’s competitions in other sports such as swimming, cycling, athletics, rugby league and rugby union.

Under the ICC’s previous regulations, which were effective from October 2018 and amended in April 2021, McGahey had satisfied all of the eligibility criteria.

However, following an ICC board meeting, new gender regulations have been announced, which follow a nine-month consultation process with the sport’s stakeholders.

The ICC said the new policy is “based on the following principles (in order of priority), protection of the integrity of the women’s game, safety, fairness and inclusion, and this means any male to female participants who have been through any form of male puberty will not be eligible to participate in the international women’s game regardless of any surgery or gender reassignment treatment they may have undertaken”.

The review, led by the ICC medical advisory committee and chaired by Dr Peter Harcourt, relates solely to gender eligibility for international women’s cricket.

Gender eligibility at domestic level is a matter for each individual member board, which the ICC notes “may be impacted by local legislation”. The regulations will be reviewed within two years.

ICC chief executive Geoff Allardice said: “The changes to the gender eligibility regulations resulted from an extensive consultation process and is founded in science and aligned with the core principles developed during the review.

“Inclusivity is incredibly important to us as a sport, but our priority was to protect the integrity of the international women’s game and the safety of players.”

The England and Wales Cricket Board will consider how the new ICC regulations impact its own policy.

A general view of the action between England and Sri Lanka during a women’s One Day International
The ECB will consider how the new ICC regulations impact its own policy.(Joe Giddens/PA)

An ECB spokesperson said: “We continue to review our transgender policy, considering inclusivity, safety and fairness, and will consider these new ICC regulations as part of this work.”

Women’s Rights Network, a group aiming to promote fair and safe policies for women and girls from grassroots sport through to elite, called on the ECB to implement change in domestic rules.

“This decision is long overdue,” WRN spokeswoman Jane Sullivan told the PA news agency. “Women’s cricket is one of the fastest-growing sports and the success of tournaments such as The Hundred and the Women’s Ashes filling cricket grounds with spectators is testament to the quality of the women’s game.

“To allow trans-identifying men to compete in the female category is not only dangerous, but unfair, given that a good male fast bowler can achieve speeds well over 90 miles per hour compared with over 70mph for the fastest women bowlers. The injury risk alone should have been enough to have stopped this.”

Sullivan added: “The ECB must now look at their rules. The current ECB rules are killing the grassroots game.

“We know of women and girls turning up to games and finding out that men who identify as women are on the opposing team. The coaches are powerless to protect the women and girls because the ECB rules say it’s okay for males to be on the team.

“Parents are rightly concerned about the injury risk to their daughters, to say nothing of the safeguarding issues when trans-identifying males decide to use the women’s changing rooms.

“Now that the international authorities have recognised the importance of safety and fairness in the women’s game, we call on the ECB to bring their rules in line with the ICC.”

McGahey said she had been informed of the ICC’s upcoming announcement last week and expressed disappointment at the decision.

“I don’t have a lot to say currently, but it’s a tough decision to take. Obviously, processing it has been challenging as it marks the end of my international cricket career,” McGahey told BBC Sport.

“It’s obviously incredibly disappointing when I consider the implication it will have on young transgender women all across the world.

“I hope it does not dissuade anyone from chasing their dreams. Trans women belong in sport and belong in cricket.”