Referees are quitting their jobs over fears of being sued as more transgender athletes join women’s rugby leagues in Great Britain.
Some refs are saying they afraid of being sued as more men claiming to be women join the women’s leagues and end up hurting natural-born female contestants with their strength and speed, the Sunday Times reported.
The refs say they have even been warned not to question bearded or heavily muscled players claiming to be women for fear of not being inclusive enough.
British women’s rugby does have a testosterone limit for transgender players, but refs say they have been told to take the results of testosterone tests on the word of the player and that they have no recourse to demand any sort of proof.
One ref told the paper that he feared being sued over injured players: “Being forced to prioritize hurt feelings over broken bones exposes me to personal litigation from female players who have been damaged by players who are biologically male. This is driving female players and referees out of the game.”
Another ref said he is tired of being called a “bigot” for questioning players born as men for playing with the women. He even told the paper that he has witnessed five players with full beards claiming to be women and playing in the women’s leagues.
Welsh transgender player Kelly Morgan is ripping through the women’s rugby league and is so over-powering on the field that even the team’s coach has admitted that Morgan is hurting his own players in practice.
“She’s going to be a good, good player for the next few years,” said coach Brian Minty, “as long as we can stop her injuring players in training.”
“I do feel guilty, but what can you do?” Morgan told the BBC. “I don’t go out to hurt anybody. I just want to play rugby.”
The story is little different in other countries. Last year, Australia transgender handball player, Hannah Mouncey, made news for powering through and decimating nearly every opposing team. Mouncey heavily outweighs, outmuscles, and towers over every natural-born female player in the league. In photos, Mouncey is literally a giant among Lilliputians.
But some scientists are beginning to doubt the efficacy of allowing transgenders to play with natural-born women. A recent study by three professors at New Zealand’s University of Otago, concluded that men claiming to be transgender women do not lose much of their male prowess in sports despite testosterone loss, hormone therapy, and transgender surgeries.
The researchers concluded that “healthy young men did not lose significant muscle mass (or power) when their circulating testosterone levels were reduced.”
The research also pointed out that hormone therapy also cannot change a man’s more powerful bone structure.
“For example, hormone therapy will not alter bone structure, lung volume or heart size of the transwoman athlete, especially if she transitions post-puberty, so natural advantages including joint articulation, stroke volume, and maximal oxygen uptake will be maintained,” the professors said.
“We conclude that the advantage to transwomen afforded by the IOC guidelines is an intolerable unfairness,” state the authors of the study.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.