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Trans Grassroots Futbol Players

Trans athletes being banned from different sports, and soccer (Futbol) is no exception and FIFA has announced its intention to review the sport’s transgender policy in the wake of recent changes tightening restrictions on participation in other sports.

What are the rules for trans players in football?

In England, the FA has its own policy for trans participation in matches and competitions that it oversees — Under-18s football has no rules restricting participation because mixed football for both boys and girls is permitted but adult football for over-18s dictates that men and women must play separately.

Trans players are entitled to play with their affirmed gender, with each case reviewed on an individual basis considering “the safety of the applicant and fellow players” as well as “the need to ensure fair competition”. For trans men wishing to participate in FA-governed football, there is the requirement to demonstrate they are undergoing hormone therapy (which has to be reconfirmed annually) and that their blood testosterone levels are within the same range as for cisgender men (ie, men whose gender is the same as their birth sex).

Meanwhile, trans women must show their blood testosterone levels are within the natal female range after undergoing hormone treatment or gonadectomy (the surgical removal of the testes), which is also required to be reconfirmed annually. Most of the debate in sport centres on whether transgender women should be allowed to compete alongside cisgender women (women whose gender identity matches their birth sex).

Similarly, for the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States, trans women are eligible to compete if they have declared their gender identity as female and their testosterone level is within the typical range of women athletes as defined by the league.

“It’s slightly changed this year, but last year we had to send through our full blood tests, which covered our testosterone levels and our oestrogen levels,” says Paula Griffin, a trans woman who plays with Goal Diggers and Peckham Women FC. “The key one is our testosterone, which I believe has to be below five nanomoles. Mine is virtually nonexistent. We also have to send through our anthropomorphic data like height, hips-to-waist ratio and weight, which feels a bit like the Miss World contest.”

Physical measurements are considered by sports governing bodies for safety and competition reasons. Testosterone is measured in the blood — average levels for cisgender women are usually between 0.2 and 1.7 nanomoles per litre.


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