Trans player puts cricketers on the back foot The Sunday Times 18.08.19

The original article is here.

There is a new star in the Kent women’s cricket team — its first transgender player is opening after one season.

Maxine Blythin, who is more than 6ft tall and under England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) rules can self-identify as a woman, has a batting average of 124 this season and has hit four centuries already.

Under ECB rules transgender players have to test their testosterone only if they are selected for England.

Fair Play for Women has said the policy is unfair, especially at a time when the game is improving opportunities for female players. A £20m semi-professional competition for women starts next year.

“Letting males who self-ID as women play in women’s competitions is demonstrably unfair,” the campaign group tweeted last week. “The ECB *knows* males have a performance advantage over females. This is [why] it lets women use lighter & smaller cricket balls & why boundaries are set closer.”

Last week Cricket Australia announced that testosterone levels would be tested in non-professional leagues. Female players’ testosterone levels will need to be below 10 nanomoles per litre for a year, in line with the International Cricket Council’s policy.

Cricket Australia’s policies were shaped by the experience of transgender players such as Erica James, 44, who transitioned three years ago. She took female hormones two months before taking up cricket again in 2016 after quitting team sports aged 15.

The ECB is understood to be worried about a backlash against transgender players. “Our position on transgender participation will be reviewed as part of our commitment to regularly review all governance policies,” it said.

But as far as the policy of self-identification with no medical requirement went, it was “unlikely to make any unilateral changes”, the board added.

“We are proud that this model promotes an inclusive environment for all participants in domestic and recreational cricket.”

The ECB said it was aware that “we have some transgender cricketers playing county cricket out there”.