The International Cricket Council has imposed a ban on transgender players from international women’s cricket if the player has gone through male puberty.
The elite council, in a statement, said it has decided after an extensive scientific review and a 9-month consultation, to “protect the integrity of the international women’s cricket matches, safety, fairness and inclusion.”
“The new policy is based on the following principles (in order of priority), protection of the integrity of the women’s game, safety, fairness and inclusion, and this means any male to female participants who have been through any form of male puberty will not be eligible to participate in the international women’s game regardless of any surgery or gender reassignment treatment they may have undertaken,” reads the ICC statement. “The review, which was led by the ICC Medical Advisory Committee chaired by Dr. Peter Harcourt, relates solely to gender eligibility for international women’s cricket, whilst gender eligibility at domestic level is a matter for each individual Member Board, which may be impacted by local legislation. The regulations will be reviewed within two years.”
Cricket is one of the biggest sports in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka with a fan base of 2.5 billion people around the world.
The ICC started the first women’s World Cup in 1973. The Board of Control for Cricket in India is the richest cricket board in the world, worth $2.25 billion. The BCCI in 2023 alone made $3.77 billion from the inaugural season of the Women’s Premier League. A huge population of trans people lives in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and other major countries that participate in international cricket matches, but the new policy change has created a blowback for the community.
Danielle McGahey, a trans cricketer from Australia, confirmed after the ban came into effect that her career as a cricketer is over.
“Following the ICC’s decision, it is with a very heavy heart that I must say that my international cricketing career is over. As quickly as it begun, it must now end,” said McGahey on her Instagram page. “While I hold my opinions on the ICC’s decision, they are irrelevant. What matters is the message being sent to millions of trans women today, a messaging say that we don’t belong.”
McGahey also said that she will not stop fighting for equality in sports.
She is the first transgender woman cricketer to take part in an official international match when she represented Canada in a T20 match against Brazil. She previously played for men’s club cricket in Melbourne before moving to Canada in 2020.
Although the ban has shattered many hopes and dreams, the ICC statement confirms each country can decide eligibility for trans cricketers in domestic games.
The Washington Blade reached out to India’s BCCI for reaction and response on the future of trans cricketers in India, but the board did not immediately respond.
The Blade also reached out to the Australian Cricket Board and South African Cricket Board but did not receive a comment. The Blade sought comment from Sports Minister Anurag Thakur and MP Rajiv Shukla, a former IPL chair, but both declined to respond.
“It is very unfortunate, and I am really disappointed with the decision of ICC, which is excluding transgender people because when we talk about human rights or legal rights, transgender people deserve to be in all parts of the society,” said Kalki Subramaniam, a trans activist, queer artist and motivational speaker based in India. “Especially in sports trans people deserve to play. It is a huge disappointment for us to know that ICC has banned transgender people. There is no need to do that and ICC should review their policy. While Indian army is considering (whether) to recruit transgender people, why would the ICC do the opposite.”
Kalki told the Blade the ICC statement does not justify the exclusion, especially trans women as it excludes trans women as categorized as women.
While talking to the Blade, Nilufer, a trans activist who represents the Mumbai-based Humsafar Trust, said there is constant discrimination happening in sports not only in India but around the world in athletics against trans women. She also said the ICC ban is discriminatory against the community, not only for trans Indian cricketers but for the entire world.
Ankush Kumar is a reporter who has covered many stories for Washington and Los Angeles Blades from Iran, India and Singapore. He recently reported for the Daily Beast. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is on Twitter at @mohitkopinion.