The World Boxing Council has listed four reasons why transgender boxers will be unable to compete in the sport until further research is completed.
They are as follows:
1. The World Boxing Council (WBC) firmly and unequivocally supports transgender rights and recognizes the gender identity of an individual athlete. This commitment is grounded in the WBC values of inclusion.
2. The WBC shall continue to champion to protect transgender individuals against discrimination at their workplace, in employment, education and access to healthcare.
3. The WBC is committed to its value of fair competition. A combat sport bout should occur between two equally matched competitors. At present there is no consensus whether a bout between a transgender woman against a cisgender (biological) woman is a fair bout between two equally matched competitors. Metric such as testosterone level less than 10 nanomoles per liter (achieved by using testosterone suppression medication in the transgender woman), in isolation is inadequate to ensure fairness at the time off the bout. It can be argued that by the time a transgender woman combatant launches her professional career she has already gone through male puberty thus conferring her with the musculature and bony structure of a male. So, a transgender woman combatant may have an unfair advantage over her cisgender woman combatant.
4. Combat sports such as boxing are unique since every punch thrown at the head is thrown with the intention of winning by causing a knockout (which is nothing but a concussive head injury). Resulting these sports carry an exceedingly high risk for both acute and chronic neurological injuries. Boxers have died during a bout or in the immediate aftermath due to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) such as an acute subdural hematoma (SDH), epidural hematoma (EDH), subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), intracranial hematoma and injury to the great vessels of the neck such as carotid or vertebral artery dissection. The WBC advocates for two equally skilled and matched athletes competing in the cage or ring, on a level playing field and to keep matches fair, competitive, entertaining, and most importantly safe for all combatants. At present level of scientific knowledge, the WBC consensus is that allowing transgender athletes to compete raises serious health and safety concerns.
The WBC will keep researching with the upmost professionals in healthcare to have a greater understanding of the matter and will keep looking for fairness in the sport and equality.
Author: Nitin K Sethi, MD, MBBS, FAAN