During the build-up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, fears surrounding the potential athletic advantage of transgender people (people who experience incongruence between the gender they were assigned at birth and their gender identity) intensified, and questions arose about whether transgender people should be allowed to compete in accordance with their gender identity.

But was this concern justified? My colleagues and I, in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, became intrigued and decided to explore these questions and determine whether there was any real cause for concern.

We reviewed 31 national and international transgender sporting policies, including those of the International Olympic Committee, the Football Association, Rugby Football Union and the Lawn Tennis Association.

After considering the very limited and indirect physiological research that has explored athletic advantage in transgender people, we concluded that the majority of these policies were unfairly discriminating against transgender people, especially transgender females.

The more we delved into the issue, the clearer it became that many sporting organisations had overinterpreted the unsubstantiated belief that testosterone leads to an athletic advantage in transgender people, particularly individuals who were assigned male at birth but identify as female.

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