British Triathlon creates an OPEN category for transgender athletes

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Source: BTF

British Triathlon creates an ‘open’ category for transgender athletes

Following a period of deliberation and consultation, British Triathlon (BTF) has just announced the creation of an OPEN category for transgender athletes.


TL;DR: Transgender athletes and men will compete together in an OPEN category whereas females (sex from birth) have their own category.


There are a small number of high-profile cases at competitive levels in various sports where transgender athletes competing in women’s events were deemed by some to have an unfair advantage gained by going through male puberty.

One example is swimming where FINA recently banned transgender athletes from competing in women’s elite races if they have experienced any part of male puberty. Another was last month, in June 2022, when the UK Rugby League’s governing body temporarily banned transgender women from Women’s Internationals pending the result of further research to “balance the individual’s right to participate… against perceived risk to other participants”.

British Triathlon surveyed its 3,000 members earlier this year (including me!) and found that 80% were in support of an OPEN category. Naturally, it widely consulted on the matter and also took legal advice.

We believe this is the right policy for triathlon in Great Britain, and the right time to publish it. We have taken legal advice and are confident it’s legally robust. @AndySalmon (CEO, BTF)

What Next?

The BTF will now draft guidance for event organisers which will be shared later this year in advance of a requirement to implement it on 1st January 2023.

Q: Which athletes does the OPEN category affect?

A: Everyone should understand the implication but most obviously, competitive women’s events are reserved “for those who are female sex at birth”.

Q: When does the OPEN category start?

A: 1st January, 2023 is when the OPEN category will start.

Q: Will it affect my local triathlon in the UK?

A: Most probably yes. The OPEN category will exist for every event, even grassroots events, where there are prizes, qualifications and rankings on offer

Q: Who exactly will be in the OPEN category for triathlon in the UK?

A: Male athletes, [male and female] transgender athletes and those non-binary who were male sex at birth.

Q: So will there be categories for MALE, FEMALE and OPEN?



I think I’m a bit too scared to have an opinion on this one! Gulp.

I’ll remind readers that this blog is deliberately written to avoid the words that would indicate it is written by either a male, female, black, white or transgender triathlete. Except this one article…


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7 thoughts on “British Triathlon creates an OPEN category for transgender athletes

  1. I’m a bit too scared to have an opinion on this‘ – who are you scared of and why? – it’s your site and you have the right to express an opinion,

    This is not a controversial topic – or should not be. It is indisputable that biological males have large speed and power advantages in events such as running or cycling. Think back a few week ago when a club runner Elliot Cross beat Mo Farah in the 10k. Elliot is ‘just’ a club runner yet he beat our leading lady Eilish McColgan – a full international who ran 30:23 while Elliot ran 28:40. There can not even be a debate here – our leading International lady beaten by an unknown male club runner. Any males who have transistioned male to female retain most if not all of those biological advantages that Eilliot showed when comparing his 10k to Eilish McColgan’s. People need to stop beating about the bush on this subject – if you value fairness then there is no debate to be had. This is very unfortunate for M to F athletes, but allowing them to compete with biological females is unfair to all the biological females – no hand wringing or sitting on the fence gets around that, and those advantages cannot be wished away.

    1. 🙂 even not expressing an opinion seems risky

      whilst you say it’s not controversial there are others who would disagree like everyone’s favourite, Tom Daley

      You mention fairness but fairness can be defined in many ways. Fair to whom?

      I know it’s a different issue but Caster Semenya’s case also presented interesting dilemmas. We all seem to be on some spectrum somewhere or other and drawing that dividing line is tricky but it has to be drawn.

      1. Tom Daley is male though so he competes against other biological males – so he is not impacted by the fairness issue. I dpn’t really know why he is commenting as he doesn’t face or won’t the issues that female swimmers or cyclists have done recently where the biological advantages enjoyed by M to F has been all too obvious.

        I think the Open category is about the best anyone can do to try not to exclude people.

        Fair to whom? Well I think fairness to biological females has to come first – they make 50% of the population after all! I don’t think you can try to accommodate a tiny minority without trying being unfair to the large majority in this case. Sometimes you just can’t put a square peg in a round hole, no matter how hard people want to do it.

        I don’t think this is a controversial issue at all and people should not be silenced or too scared to debate – but the most important voices are those of biological woman here.

      2. Didn’t we start with an “open” category and due to a number of physical advantages men have those sports split into a male/female sub category’s, then over time other sports where the physical advantage is less also joined the party.

        Ultimately, we have lots of men (including myself) commenting when we are not impacted, however the crux of the matter is why do we just split of XY and XX, – probably it was easy to do as it covered 99.9999% of people, however for example, I’m 6’3” (190cm) I face physical disadvantages in a sport like diving or gymnastics because I’m simply too tall to perform well, and probably also in my choose recreational sport of running! Which no amount of training will overcome.

        We really should align professional (semi/full) sports to other categories other than biology sex like in parasports and us amateur should just have an open category

    2. You make too much sense, compared to things I’ve read on the topic in the past few years.

  2. I’m not afraid. And have some brains and years of collecting knowledge. The world has gone mad! Directed by media and capital…. Tks to people being hackable.

  3. As a MtF runner I 100% agree with the creation of an Open category and the protection of the Female category.

    I transitioned over 25 years ago and I’m only 5’3” so it could be argued that I have a limited advantage. However, I still have the advantage of my biological sex so I do not compete in any competitions (not that I would win anyway) and just run for fun.

    I have always questioned the ethics and morales of someone who transitions and then wishes to compete in Female competitions, especially at an elite level.

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