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‘We are not a threat’: Danielle McGahey reacts to ban on trans women in international women’s cricket

The International Cricket Council is the latest world sports governing body to ban transgender women from playing with women at the highest level.

Danielle McGahey says she will ‘keep fighting’ after learning her international cricket career has ended less than three months after it began (image: @danielle_mcgahey on Instagram)

Danielle McGahey, the only publicly out transgender woman playing international women’s cricket, has vowed to keep “fighting for equality” after learning she is no longer permitted to play with the Canadian women’s national team.

McGahey posted to Instagram on Tuesday, hours after the International Cricket Council (ICC) had announced a ban with immediate effect on trans women playing in women’s competitions at the elite level.

The ICC’s decision means cricket joins other world governing bodies — including athletics, swimming, cycling and both codes of rugby — in preventing any trans woman who has gone through male puberty to compete in the female category in events under their jurisdiction.

McGahey made cricket history in early September when she became the first out trans woman to play in an ICC tournament.

The 29-year-old batter, who was recruited into the Canadian set-up two years after relocating from her native Australia, was part of the national-team squad that finished as runners-up to the USA in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Americas Qualifier.

She had the eighth-highest batting average in the tournament, with two of her own Canadian teammates among those who outperformed her.

On the ban, the ICC’s chief executive Geoff Allardice said: “The changes to the gender eligibility regulations resulted from an extensive consultation process and are founded in science, aligning with the core principles developed during the review.

“Inclusivity is incredibly important to us as a sport, but our priority was to protect the integrity of the international women’s game and the safety of players.”

Australian cricket legend Alex Blackwell tweeted to say she was “disappointed” by the development, while Athlete Ally published a statement to voice its concern, saying the ban “is motivated by politics, not by science or by true interest in centering athlete health and safety.”

In her Instagram post, McGahey said it was with a “heavy heart” that she acknowledged the implications of the ICC decision: “My international cricketing career is over. As quickly as it begun, it must now end.”

She continued: “While I hold my opinions on the ICC’s decision, they are irrelevant.

“What matters is the message being sent to millions of trans women today, a message saying that we don’t belong.

“I promise I will not stop fighting for equality for us in our sport. We deserve the right to play cricket at the highest level. We are not a threat to the integrity or safety of the sport.”

“Never stop fighting!”

McGahey told BBC Sport she had been informed by the ICC last week that the ban was impending.

As it stands, she will still be permitted to play domestic women’s cricket as the ICC leaves eligibility rulings at that level to national associations. Cricket Canada is yet to comment on the new ICC ruling.

The ECB in England and Cricket Australia both operate policies whereby trans women can apply for assessment on a case-by-case basis.

The ECB told Sky News: “We continue to review our transgender policy, considering inclusivity, safety and fairness, and will consider these new ICC regulations as part of this work.”

Cricket Australia suggested in a statement to the Sydney Morning Herald that its own policy would not change: “Our community guidelines prioritize participation and our mission of being a sport for all.”

Domestic inclusion policies for cricket have developed in part from the playing of mixed-gender cricket, which is common, particularly for good female players. At a recreational level, it would be unrealistic to conduct blood testing for eligibility purposes and the obvious social benefits of playing team sports in a welcoming environment have been factored in.

In an Instagram post earlier in the month, McGahey marked three years since coming out as trans. She writes of the highs and lows she has endured since 2020, adding: “The world is a better place when we can just be ourselves and find joy in life instead of following the rules of close-minded people.

“I can’t believe the change that I have made physically but beyond that, I am a completely different person.”