The French rugby federation will allow transgender people to play in all its official domestic competitions from next season, after its executive board voted unanimously in favour of the change.
The federation’s decision contradicts a recommendation given by World Rugby last year, that said it did not advise transgender women should play women’s contact rugby “on safety grounds”. This recommendation from World Rugby was not binding, and allowed national federations to come to their own decisions for their domestic competitions.
In a statement, the French federation said its vote for transgender athletes in the sport sends a “benevolent and resolute sign, so that respect for minorities is an irrefutable right in our sport”.
“The FFR is happy and proud to welcome, without distinction of race, religion, sex and now gender, officially those who like us are united by the same passion, the game of rugby,” it said.
Serge Simon, vice-president of the French Rugby Federation, said the decision was about respecting everyone’s right to play the sport.
“Rugby is an inclusive sport, of sharing, without distinction of sex, gender, origin, religion. The FFR is intractable against all forms of discrimination and works on a daily basis so that everyone can exercise their free will in rugby without constraint,” Simon said.
The French federation clarified that in order to compete domestically, transgender women who are transitioning must certify that they have been on hormonal treatment for at least 12 months and must not exceed the testosterone threshold of five nanomoles per litre. Players who have already transitioned can play without any preconditions.
Jean-Bernard Moles, president of the Anti-Discrimination and Equal Treatment Commission (CADET), said the decision as a “unique and major step forward” and hoped it would be followed by other federations.
“The fight to root the LGBT+ community out of secrecy is essential, but now it must be won.”
The French rugby federation is now the first national federation in France to allow transgender women to take part in elite sport.
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