Jean King is a rugby player with Fordham University but has never officially played a match for them? How could this be?
In 2015, the International Olympic Committee ruled that transgender athletes could participate in the Olympics without undergoing sexual reassignment surgery. Now, female-to-male transgender athletes are able to take part in men’s competitions without restriction, while male-to-female athletes are able to once they demonstrate their testosterone has been below a certain level for at least a year. These regulations were created by the IOC to serve as guidelines for other international athletic organizations. Unfortunately, World Rugby and by default USA Rugby have yet to adopt these regulations.
World Rugby’s current policy dictates transgender athletes must have surgery to participate, but this year World Rugby could adopt the IOC’s regulations. Fordham University’s own Jean Kim is doing everything in her power to ensure these rules will change.
Kim struggled with transitioning and found herself having suicidal thoughts until she found rugby. The Fordham team accepted her with open arms and Women’s rugby captain Liv Korth says, “Jean makes [the team] work harder to be more inclusive, accepting, and loving towards each other. I speak for the Fordham University Women’s Rugby team when I say that we stand behind Jean, and all other transgender athletes, throughout their struggles and triumphs. Jean’s fight for equality as a trans athlete does not go unnoticed by her teammates or the rugby community. We are inspired by her devotion to the sport that she truly loves and to the team name she wears on her jersey. Jean embodies the spirit of Rugby with her tenacity, strength, and resilience in the face of adversity.”
Even with the team’s support, Kim is banned from playing the sport she loves and fully participating as a member of the women’s rugby team at Fordham University due to the current World Rugby regulations.