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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that biological men should not face women in female sporting competitions, calling it a “complex” issue.
“I also believe that women should have spaces, whether in hospitals, prisons, changing rooms or wherever, that are dedicated to women,” Johnson told reporters during an official visit to a hospital.
“That doesn’t mean that I’m not immensely sympathetic to people who want to change gender, to transition, and it’s vital that we give people the maximum possible love and support in making those decisions,” the prime minister continued.
However, Johnson clarified that these are “complex issues” that, in his opinion, “can’t be solved” with quick legislation, given that a decision of that magnitude “takes a lot of thought.”
For his part, British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab expressed on Twitter his support for Johnson’s position. “It doesn’t strike me as fair for those born male to compete with those born female in sport,” Raab tweeted. “Above all, we should work through these issues without either side of the debate shouting the other side down.”
Johnson revives gender debate
Johnson was recently criticized by LGBT activists after the bill that will ban so-called conversion therapies, which his administration has referred to as “coercive and abhorrent,” excluded transgender children.
In addition, new guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission said this week that transgender people can be legitimately excluded from single-sex events or services if the reasons are “justifiable and proportionate.”
Among the reasons the government watchdog would justify exclusion are cited as privacy, decency, prevention of trauma, or ensuring the health and safety of participants.
The debate over the participation of biological men in women’s sports was recently stoked after transgender cyclist, Emily Bridges, was banned from participating in the British National Omnium Championships against five-time Olympic champion, Dame Laura Kenny.
Cycling’s international governing body, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), informed British officials on Wednesday, March 30, that under its regulations, Bridges was ineligible to participate in the event.
Bridges set a national record in the junior men’s 25+ mile category in 2018 and began hormone therapy last year to reduce his testosterone levels, so she could compete against biological women in the women’s category.