Policy Updates in Jiu-Jitsu Tournaments: Regulations Regarding Transgender Athletes

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Some time ago, NAGA and IBJJF announced their rules regarding transgender athletes. While this decision may not be liked by everyone, there will certainly be many who agree with such decisions and support the fact that athletes must compete in the group they were born into.

The president of NAGA (North American Grappling Association) formally announced an update to the policy regarding transgender athletes. He stated that NAGA’s policy now dictates that transgender individuals who have undergone male-to-female puberty are no longer allowed to compete in women’s categories at NAGA tournaments. This decision was made on October 21st in the state of Georgia. The reason for this decision was that when it was announced during the tournament that two competitors were transgender, all other female competitors withdrew from the category, leaving only the two transgender competitors.

Ovo je objavio predsjednik NAGA-e Kipp Kolar na svom instagram profilu:

“I am kipp Kollar, President of NAGA. I would like to address the controversial issue of transgender athletes competing in NAGA events. Decisions that involve conflicting rights and needs between different groups are inherently difficult; that said, maintaining fairness for female athletes is our paramount priority. Due to the legacy effects of being born male through puberty, in parallel with the policy of FINA(the world governing body for swimming), World Rugby, and numerous other global sports organizations, male-to-female transgender athletes who have gone through male puberty are excluded from competing in the female division at NAGA events. This position is of course even more important given the heightened potential for injury in grappling.

Implementing this policy poses challenges. The registration system used by most grappling events including NAGA, and Smoothcomp, unfortunately only allows users to choose between male and female genders when registering. It does not provide an option to register as transgender. Ideally, there should be an option in the registration process to declare yourself as transgender. We have requested that this change be made in short order.
We are adding additional text to the event and rules pages of our website, and our Smoothcomp event pages to help inform transgender females which division they need to enter. We feel these additional steps will help to make sure all competitors are in their correct division. If a competitor is discovered to be in an incorrect division, they will be contacted and provided the option to move to the correct division or receive a refund (just as we would do if we were notified that a D1 wrestler was in the beginner division).

Moving forward, we will be guided by the science around male advantage and physical performance, which will inevitably develop over the coming years. As further evidence becomes available, we will review our position, but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is of the most profound importance.” – Kipp Collar, NAGA president


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IBJJF even before NAGA announced that competitors must compete in the group they belong to at birth. The federation also has announced: “The federation retains the authority to ask for original identification documents if needed.”

From all of this, it is clear that Jiu-Jitsu and grappling associations have begun to implement strict policies regarding transgender competitors. These decisions are certainly controversial and reflect the sentiments and viewpoints of different sides. What they emphasize as most important is the significance of biological sex in determining categories.

While these decisions will undoubtedly encounter much controversy, they still aim to maintain competition as fair as possible, as women simply do not want to compete against transgender women.

At the same time, all organizations emphasize the need to respect the rights and dignity of all people and athletes regardless of their life choices and gender identification.

If you’re interested in understanding the perspective of some transgender competitors, you can read a message sent to the Jiu-Jitsu community by a transgender competitor here.

What is your opinion on this?

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