German Football Association (DFB) has decided to buck the recent trends of banning transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports by introducing new regulations that allow transgender, non-binary, and intersex footballers to decide for themselves whether they want to play in men’s or women’s teams. 

“At its core, this ruling says that players with a personal (gender) status that is ‘diverse’ or ‘no reference’ and players who change their gender can take their own decision whether they will be issued an eligibility to play for a men’s or women’s team,” the DFB said.

Read More: World Swimming Bans Trans Athletes From Women’s Elite Events 

Moreover, there’s a provision for a transgender footballer to change their team or continue with their existing team, depending on what gender they align themselves with. There are no parameters like a testosterone limit for trans women to play women’s football. 

The rule will come into effect from the next season, and it will also apply to youth, futsal, and amateur football in Germany. 

“As long as the sporting activity does not affect the health of the person while they are taking medication, the person can take part in the game, which is why the new regulation excludes doping relevance,” added DFB.

This is in stark contrast to FINA’s ruling, as per which only those who have undergone transition before hitting the male puberty will be allowed to compete in the women’s team. 

FINA’s decision was gleefully cheered by World Athletics President Sebastian Coe, who admitted he’ll always choose ‘fairness’ over ‘inclusion’. There’s widespread fear among transgender athletes and activists, who fear that FINA’s decision will set precedent for other sporting organisations worldwide. 

Amidst such speculations, DFB’s decision couldn’t be more perfectly timed. It will serve as an inspiration for the governing bodies of the team sports, including FIFA, as they too are expected to release their manifesto for trans and non-binary athletes in the upcoming days.

After testing these rules at local levels since 2019, DFB found that the inclusion of trans footballers in women’s teams doesn’t hamper the integrity or fairness of the game. “Experience has shown that this does not jeopardise the integrity of the competition,” the DFB said. “After all, all people have different physical strengths and abilities that only lead to success together in a team, regardless of gender.”

There’s no universal rule for the inclusion of trans athletes as the International Olympic Committee has left this decision to the individual sporting body. 

Featured Image Credit: AP