Grassroots opposition to World Athletics’ transgender proposals

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Maths and data experts from Mornington Chasers Running Club find 87% of club representatives in Britain do not want transgender athletes in women’s events

A statistical survey carried out by maths and data experts from Mornington Chasers Running Club has shown that an overwhelming majority of grassroots athletics and running clubs in the UK are opposed to male athletes who identify as transgender competing in women’s athletics.

The survey was carried out following the news that World Athletics had circulated a consultation document that included the option of allowing transgender athletes to compete in elite female track and field events if they recorded a low testosterone level.

Alice Sullivan of University College London and John Armstrong of King’s College London contacted more than 400 athletics and running clubs to ask them about the global governing body’s proposal to allow some males, including males who identify as transgender, to compete in women’s athletics on condition that they reduce their testosterone levels below 2.5nmol/L for two years.

They found that 87% of those who replied were opposed to the proposal.

The survey only received 65 replies from 416 emails and acknowledge any data-collection exercise has some limitations, but they add: “The sample size of the survey was not a limitation… We do not think conducting a larger survey would make any material difference to the key finding that the volunteers do not support World Athletics’ policy.”

Sullivan is chair of Mornington Chasers Running Club and Professor of Sociology at UCL with a special interest in data analysis and collection, whereas Armstrong is a coach at the club and Reader in Financial Mathematics at King’s.

They describe themselves as “part of a group of runners who believe it is important for UK Athletics and World Athletics to be informed of the views of the UK athletics community on this issue”.

“It is vital that grassroots athletics has a voice,” says Sullivan. “We conducted this survey because no-one had asked the ordinary volunteers who keep community athletics going what we think.”

Their survey results in more detail can be found here.

📢 Results just in!📢

87% of athletics volunteers who expressed a view said that males who have been through male puberty should not be allowed to compete in the female category.@johnarmstrong5 @WorldAthletics @BritAthletics

— Professor Alice Sullivan (@ProfAliceS) January 27, 2023

However, those who oppose the idea of transgender athletes competing in women’s athletics will have been pleased to see a report in The Times on Thursday which suggests World Athletics’ long-term strategy is likely to stop trans and intersex athletes competing in female categories — and instead lead to them taking on elite men in a new “open” classification.

The article, which was written by long-time athletics journalists Matt Lawton and Rick Broadbent, reported: “Insiders anticipate the end result of the consultation will be the creation of a new, fully-inclusive open category in which both trans and DSD (differences in sexual development) athletes will compete against elite men.”

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