LTA facing calls to re-think transgender policy
The LTA – padel’s governing body in Britain – is facing calls for its transgender player policy to be reconsidered following concerns raised by females competing in an LTA Grade 1 padel tournament.
The Bandeja understands that a group of players expressed unease about the participation of a transgender female in the tournament late last year and wrote to the LTA voicing concerns that such athletes benefit from the physiological advantages of male puberty and that females may exclude themselves from competition if they consider it unfair.
One of the players said: “It’s not the person it’s the situation and the as yet unproven possibility of competitive advantage. That is the talking point.
“It becomes more of a challenging feeling when it is a competitive situation and there are real questions about competitive advantage. Everyone is keen for inclusion but at what cost?”
The LTA encourages venues and coaches to take ‘proactive steps that enable everyone to access tennis, have a positive experience and the opportunity to achieve their potential and trans people are no exception to this’.
Its transgender policy states that players should be accepted ‘in the gender they present’. It does recognise there may be concerns about fairness in the women’s and mixed game but its policy ‘assumes that trans women wishing to compete….do so with the best of intentions’.
For players on an LTA Performance Pathway the rules are different, with the association reverting to International Tennis Federation regulations. These require the concentration of testosterone in transgender female players’ serum to be less than 5 nmol/L continuously for at least 12 months. Player must maintain it below that level whilst competing in the female category.
In a statement to The Bandeja, the LTA said: “The LTA is currently reviewing its transgender policy and guidance. In the meantime the current policy remains in place. The LTA is the governing body of padel in Britain and therefore the policy applies to participation in both LTA sanctioned tennis and padel competitions.”
The association did not respond to questions about how long the policy has been under review, if the players’ letter of concern started the process and when the review is expected to conclude. Neither did it comment on creating an Open category or if it views padel as different to other sports that have prohibited transgender women from female categories and therefore – by implication – less reliant on physicality.
According to the LTA website its policy is being reviewed ‘in light of proposed Sport England guidance and equalities advice’. This advice was published in September 2021 and states that all sports councils (UK Sport, Sport England, Sport Wales, sportscotland and Sport Northern Ireland) are committed to the inclusion of transgender people but recognise that ‘competitive fairness cannot be reconciled with self-identification into the female category in gender-affected sport’.
Sport England adds: “Based upon current evidence, testosterone suppression is unlikely to guarantee fairness between transgender women and natal females in gender-affected sports; transgender women are on average likely to retain physical advantage in terms of physique, stamina and strength.
“We are therefore encouraging and advising NGBs (national governing bodies) and SGBs (Scottish sporting bodies) to define the best options for their sport and determine whether it may be possible to offer more than one version of their sport to achieve the different aims.”
Several sports, including world athletics, swimming and rugby, have prohibited transgender women from competing in female categories. British Rowing has asked its members to vote on its transgender participation policy, with an announcement expected this month. British Cycling is expected to publish its revised policy shortly. 🎾