Boxing New Zealand moves to establish open category to allow transgender athletes to compete

Boxing New Zealand has moved to establish an 'open' category as a means of separate competition for transgender athletes.

Stating the need to minimise safety risks for competitors, Boxing NZ has begun the process of allowing for an open category for athletes who have taken a process of medical transition, persons in the process of transition or persons who do not qualify for either the male or female category.

"Our priority first and foremost is the safety of competitors in our sport, all competitors, regardless of any sexual persuasion or gender preference," Boxing NZ president Steve Hartley said.

"We wish to continue to provide an environment where people benefit from rules that allow for fair and safe competition."

Citing World Rugby's summary of transgender biology and performance research, a male athlete is said to have a 160 percent advantage in punching power.

"Allowing any male, regardless of how he identifies, to box against a female would be to actively accept that the physical safety of a female boxer is worth less than the wishes of a male boxer to be included in the sex category they identify with," Boxing NZ stated.

"We will not allow male people who have undergone puberty and who may be undertaking a medical transition to participate in the female category given the evidence around [a] retained advantage.

"Female participants in our sport welcome the inclusion and participation of gender diverse people in boxing but have made it very clear to Boxing NZ they will not accept transgender females competing in the female category in the name of 'inclusion.'"

Already in 2022, multiple sports have taken steps to establish open categories, with swimming, triathlon, football, athletics, netball and rugby league among those to move to limit participation or create new guidelines.