A transgender rugby player has successfully raised a substantial amount of money in her fight against a policy that prohibits trans women from participating in the sport. Julie-Anne Curtiss, the trans athlete, initiated legal action against the Rugby Football Union (RFU) after they implemented a policy in 2022 that effectively banned trans women from competing.
The RFU’s policy called the RFU Gender Participation Policy, imposed a blanket ban on trans women in competitive play, citing the “fairness of competition” and highlighting perceived physical differences between biological males and females as justification for the ban.
In September 2022, Curtiss expressed her concerns to ESPN, emphasizing the significant negative impact the newly implemented policy was having on her and other trans players’ mental health. She criticized the RFU for not considering the importance of rugby to these individuals and failing to provide adequate support.
To garner support for her legal battle against the RFU’s policy, Curtiss launched a crowdfunding campaign on CrowdJustice named ‘Fighting the ban on trans women in rugby.’ Although the campaign has been removed, it managed to raise over £6,585 in its final week before the official end date.
Curtiss has received backing from members of her team, including cisgender positional coach Holly Taylor, who attested to Curtiss’s performance and stated that she posed no greater threat than any other player. Taylor also praised Curtiss’s rugby knowledge and emphasized her positive impact on the team.
Numerous sports experts have explained that there is minimal evidence suggesting that trans women possess an inherent advantage over cisgender women in competitive sports. Endocrinologist Dr. Ada Cheung highlighted in July 2022 that many policies are based on subjective opinions rather than scientific evidence.
While contact sports have raised concerns about the perceived danger to cisgender women, the Cambridge Rollerbillies, a roller derby team, and LGBTQ+ charity The Kite Trust stated in April that trans inclusivity has not caused any issues during competitions. They applauded this shift in attitude compared to other sports and the negative impact such policies have on trans youth who feel excluded from participating.
Overall, Julie-Anne Curtiss’s legal fight against the RFU’s ban on trans women in rugby has gained significant support and highlighted the need for inclusive policies in sports, emphasizing the importance of fairness and acceptance.