A transgender women’s rugby player has spoken out about what it’s really like to compete as a trans woman in the sport, saying she can’t even “come close to the level of athleticism” she had before she made the transition.
Emma Farnan, who plays for the women’s team at Southern Headliners Rugby Club in the Premier Rugby (PR) Sevens League, told Good Morning America: “Being trans doesn’t inherently mean I’m going to be a good player.”
“I’m still working my ass off to be where I am in the sport and continue to perform,” said the 27-year-old aerospace engineer, who has a PhD from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
“So often the discussion about trans women in sport boils down to assuming that we are able to play at the same level as men, and we just can’t. We are women and we compete equally as women.
Trans rugby player Emma Farnan has spoken about what it’s really like to play in sport as a transgender woman
Emma (centre holds the ball steady) plays for the Southern Headliners Rugby Club women’s team in the Premier Rugby (PR) Sevens League
“I feel like a shell of the athlete I used to be after taking hormones for a year or two. As if I can’t even come close to reaching the athletic level that I used to be able to compete with.
“There wasn’t a single time at PR Sevens that I left and I felt like I was the strongest or the fastest or the tallest girl on the team.”
Emma, who is originally from Bay Shore, New York, also expressed frustration at not being able to play at a higher level than the PR Sevens after the world federation of rugby transgender women from participating in international events such as excluded from the Olympic Games. in 2020.
World Rugby said after months of research it had “concluded that safety and fairness for women competing against trans women in contact rugby cannot currently be assured” but allowed national federations to implement grassroots guidelines.
“I just think it’s really dangerous because there are so many people like me who have gone through all the precautions and all the steps to meet to compete fairly,” Emma told GMA.
Emma pictured a day after an operation. She switched in her senior year
Emma (left with her partner), originally from Bay Shore, New York, also expressed frustration at not being able to play at a higher level than the PR Sevens
“When I was younger I pretty much always knew that I felt more like a girl, I didn’t have the language to describe it,” said Emma (left in both photos above).
“And I have no way of playing at a higher level, whether I’ve trained my ass or not.
“And it’s really difficult to be in a position where my career isn’t restricted because I go to try and I’m told I’m not good enough, my career is restricted because of my medical history.”
In a recent PR Sevens video, Emma shared her struggles with coming out as a trans woman.
“I pretty much always knew when I was younger that I felt more like a girl, [but] I didn’t have the language to describe it,” she said.
“I realized early on that my attempts to describe that would often lead to bullying and stuff like that.
“And so I’ve tried to keep it as hidden as possible between the skills in sports and in school. I felt like this was just a problem I needed to overcome.
“It was around my senior year of college that I kind of realized I couldn’t go on like this. I wasn’t enjoying life as much as I thought I could and I felt like I wasn’t really myself. At this point I decided to switch.
Emma said she competed in soccer, wrestling, baseball and track and field growing up and the skills she learned in those sports were transferrable to the game of rugby.
Emma shared her struggles with coming out as a trans woman in a recent PR Sevens video
World Rugby is not the only governing body to place restrictions on transgender female athletes.
In June 2022, the World Swimming Federation FINA effectively banned trans athletes from competing in women’s events.
Earlier that year, swimmer Lia Thomas sparked national debate after becoming the first trans athlete to win an NCAA Division I national championship.
She later dismissed the controversy surrounding her place in the women’s category.
Emma said she competed in soccer, wrestling, baseball, and track and field when she was young
“There are many factors that go into a race and how well you do. The biggest change for me is that I’m happy and the second year that I’ve had my best times competing with men, I’ve been unhappy,” she told ABC News and ESPN in an exclusive interview last May.
“The fact that this has been lifted is incredibly relieving and allows me to give everything in training and racing.”
Earlier this month, current and former collegiate athletes, including swimmers Riley Gaines and Marshi Smith, attended a protest and called on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to “take direct and immediate action to set rules to protect the.” Keeping Women’s College Sports Feminine”.
Footage of the protest shows the athletes and members of ICONS – Independent Council on Women’s Sports – reading their letter at the front of the convention with signs reading “Our Bodies, Our Sports”.
The letter provided to the NCAA states: “In the world of collegiate sports, it is impossible to create equal opportunities for both sexes (as required by Title IX) without all-women teams.
“Nevertheless, the NCAA implements a policy to allow and maintain male athletes on women’s teams, even as sports governing bodies and federal courts increasingly oppose this unjust and unfair policy that excludes young women from their own teams.”
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