The Inner Circle of the Winner's Circle: Exclusionary Treatment of Transgender and Gender Diverse Athletes in Elite Sports


  • Rose Burbery


Transgender and gender diverse athletes’ participation in elite sports has been a controversial topic of debate in mainstream media following several high-profile cases. Testosterone testing for female athletes can be discriminatory and exclusionary, particularly for transgender and gender diverse athletes, and is an area of ambiguity given the lack of consensus internationally on accepted testosterone levels for female athletes. This article intends to examine this issue from a social and theoretical perspective and use this to analyse the relevant Australian legislation governing the issue. An examination of the cases of Caster Semenya, Hannan Mouncey and Laurel Hubbard will be used to demonstrate the current attitude towards transgender and gender-diverse athletes in elite sports, and of the use of queer and gender theories will aid in analysis of the law and policy on gender diversity in elite sports in Australia.



A Articles/Books/Reports

Barberia, Juan Mario, Juan Giner and Vincente Cortes-Gallegos, ‘Diurnal Variations of Plasma Testosterone in Men’ (1973) 22(5) Steroids 615

Butler, Judith, Undoing Gender (Routledge, 2004)

Harper, Joanna, ‘Race Times for Transgender Athletes’ (2015) 6(1) Journal of Sporting Cultures and Identities 1

Healy, Marie-Louise et al, ‘Endocrine Profiles in 693 Elite Athletes in the Postcompetition Setting’ (2014) 81(2) Clinical Endocrinology 294

Kuil, Cor W and Eppo Mulder, ‘Mechanism of Antiandrogen Action: Conformational Changes of the Receptor’ (1994) 102(1-2) Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 1

Liang, Jennifer et al, ‘Testosterone Levels Achieved by Medically Treated Transgender Women in a United States Endocrinology Clinic Cohort’ (2018) 24(2) Endocrine Practice 135

MacKinnon, Catharine, ‘Feminism, Marxism, Method, and the State: Toward Feminist Jurisprudence’ (1983) 8(4) Signs 635

Magid, Kesson, et al, ‘Childhood Ecology Influences Salivary Testosterone, Pubertal Age and Stature of Bangladeshi UK Migrant Men’ (2018) 2(7) Nature Ecology & Evolution 1146

Monaco, Salvatore, ‘Sports Beyond Genders. Sociological Analysis on the Participation of Transgender Women in Female Sport Competitions’ (2020) Comunicación y género 3(2) 105

Moskovic, Daniel, Michael Eisenberg and Larry Lipshultz, ‘Seasonal Fluctuations in Testosterone-Estrogen Ratio in Men from the Southwest United States’ (2012) 33(6) Journal of Andrology 1298

Nyong’o, Tavia, ‘The Unforgiveable Transgression of Being Caster Semenya’ (2010) 20(1) Women & Performance 95

Travison, Thomas, et al, ‘Harmonised Reference Ranges for Circulating Testosterone Levels in Men of Four Cohort Studies in the United States and Europe’ (2017) 102(4) The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 1161

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West-Sell, Sharon, John Mark VanNess and Margaret Ciccolella, ‘Law, Policy, and Physiology as Determinants of Fairness for Transgender Athletes’ (2019) 22(2) Professionalization of Exercise Physiology 1

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B Cases

Ferneley v Boxing Authority of New South Wales (2001) 115 FCR 306

Taylor and others v Moorabbin Saints Junior Football League and another [2004] VCAT 158

C Legislation

Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld)

Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld)

Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)

D Treaties

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, opened for signature 16 December 1966, 999 UNTS 171 (entered into force 23 March 1976)

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, International Charter of Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport (21 November 1978)

E Other

Australian Associated Press, ‘Cricket Australia launches inclusion policy for transgender and gender diverse players’, The Guardian (online, 8 August 2019) <>

Australian Human Rights Commission, Guidelines for the inclusion of transgender and gender diverse people in sport (at June 2019)

‘Caster Semenya can run without testosterone restriction’, DW News (online, 3 June 2019) <>

‘“Discrimination has no place in the game”: CA brings in transgender diversity policy’, SBS News (online, 8 August 2019) <>

Ewart, Richard, ‘Transgender athlete’s controversy swirls after Laurel Hubbard wins gold at Pacific Games’, ABC News (online, 30 July 2019) <>

Harper, Joanna, ‘Sport’s transgender debate needs compromise not conflict’, The Guardian (online, 1 April 2019) <>

Harrison, Dan, ‘Transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey withdraws from AFLW draft’, ABC News (online, 10 September 2018) <>

International Association of Athletics Federation, ‘IAAF Publishes Briefing Notes and Q&A on Female Eligibility Regulations’ (Press Release, 7 May 2019) <>

International Association of Athletics Federation, ‘New Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification’ (Media Release, 26 April 2018) <>

International Olympic Committee, IOC Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism (at November 2015)

Maese, Rick, ‘Court rules Olympic runner Caster Semenya must use hormone-suppressing drugs to compete’, Washington Post (online, 1 May 2019) <>

North, Anna, ‘“I am a woman and I am fast”: what Caster Semenya’s story says about gender and race in sports’, Vox (Web Page, 3 May 2019) <>

Savulescu, Julian, ‘Ten ethical flaws in the Caster Semenya decision on intersex in sport’, The Conversation (Web Page, 9 May 2019) <>

Semenya, ASA and IAAF: Executive Summary (Court of Arbitration for Sport, Case No 2018/O/5794, 1 May 2019) <>

Shalala, Amanda, ‘IAAF female classification rules slammed as “blatantly racist”’, ABC News (online, 28 April 2018) <>

‘Transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey ineligible for AFL Women’s draft’, SBS News (online, 17 October 2017) <>

‘Transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey ruled ineligible for 2018 AFLW draft’, ABC News (online, 18 October 2017) <>

University of Otago, ‘Gender binary in elite sports should be abandoned, researchers urge’, ScienceDaily (online, 23 July 2019) <>