Two former Olympians have expressed concerns about the integrity of women’s sports categories amid proposals to reform Scotland’s gender recognition process.
Former competitive swimmer Sharron Davies and former marathon runner Mara Yamauchi visited Edinburgh on Thursday to attend a For Women Scotland conference.
Both spoke of their disappointment at not being invited as sportswomen to testify before Holyrood’s Committee on Equality, Human Rights and Civil Justice, which is currently examining the legislation.
The committee last month took evidence on the impact of the proposal on sport, hearing from Sportscotland and Leap Sport Scotland.
Ms Davies said she would “absolutely” appear before the committee if asked to, while Ms Yamauchi revealed she had written to the committee after the evidence on sport was heard.
“I just got a response that they will not be holding any more sessions on esports,” she said. “They need to listen to women athletes, and they need to listen to people who care about women’s sport.”
A letter to Ms. Davies from committee convener Joe FitzPatrick said the bill “contains a number of issues on which the committee needs to focus in its consideration.”
“You will appreciate that sport is just one of those aspects,” he wrote, adding that the broader issue of including transgender people in sport “goes far beyond the committee’s consideration of the specific provisions of the law.” .
“Following consideration of this issue at last week’s committee meeting, it made a collective decision not to hold any further hearings involving elite female athletes,” he said.
Ms Davies told the conference about her experience of attending the Olympics, where she faced competitors from East Germany.
“For me, this is a passion that comes from competing against East Germans for a decade,” she said. “Young East German girls have been pushed through male puberty, which is a terrible thing.”
She added: “At the Olympics, I won my silver medal as one of only two people outside of the Eastern Bloc to win medals. They took 90% of the medals for women and only 5% for men.”
Ms Davies added: “If we allow men to be in women’s sport, you exclude women from their own sport category.
“Sport is inherently exclusionary. The whole reason you have under 10s is because the under 10s can race and the 12s can’t go in there and win.
Ms Yamauchi said she felt sport was inclusive “until gender identity ideology emerged,” adding, “If there weren’t categories, the only people who would get a glimpse would be adult, able-bodied males.” , as they are the group with the greatest physical ability.”
She said: “We can all see with our own eyes what gender ideology has done to women’s sport and I hope political leaders put a stop to it now because a lot of damage has already been done.”
Ms Yamauchi revealed that she self-excluded herself during her competition for “unfair competition” after suspecting her rivals of doping.
“The same is true for women who face men in their own category,” she said.
The controversial Gender Recognition Reform Act (Scotland) would reduce the length of time it takes a trans person to live their acquired gender from the current two years to three months, with a three-month cooling-off period thereafter.
The legislation would also eliminate the need for a gender dysphoria diagnosis before applying for a gender recognition certificate and lower the minimum age for applying from 18 to 16.