Transgender Policy

Transgender Policy

Issued: 2023. Review date: June 2024.


At the date of issue of this document, the World Karate Federation has yet to determine rules and regulations for Transgender athletes. In the absence of that information, the following information applies to British Karate Federation Domestic Competitions and Events. (As per Equality in Sport guidelines.)


The Sports Councils’ Equality Group aims to “promote and develop equality in sport across all the equality strands” [1]

These strands constitute the nine ‘protected characteristics’ in accordance with the Equality Act (2010) and are:

Age, Disability, Gender reassignment, Marital or civil union status, Pregnancy and maternity, Race, Religion or belief, Sex, Sexual orientation

Laws across the UK set out legal protections for gender reassignment (and for all protected characteristics) within the Equality Act (EA 2010): 

“People with a protected characteristic may not be discriminated against (either directly or indirectly) on the basis of that characteristic”. 

Direct discrimination is where a person is treated less favourably on account of their protected characteristic. Indirect discrimination occurs when a policy or practice applies in general, but a group is treated less favourably by that policy as a result of their shared characteristic.

However, there is specific provision within the Act for policy and rules in sport in relation to gender reassignment, as well as sex, age, and nationality (or place of birth). The Equality Act 2010 Section 195 states: 

“A person does not contravene… so far as relating to gender reassignment, only by doing anything in relation to the participation of a transsexual person as a competitor in a gender-affected activity if it is necessary to do so to secure in relation to the activity

a) Fair competition, or 

b) The safety of competitors. 

A gender-affected activity is a sport, game or other activity of a competitive nature in circumstances in which the physical strength, stamina or physique of average persons of one sex would put them at a disadvantage compared with average persons of the other sex as competitors in events involving the activity.”

All competitors will need to be compliant with anti-doping regulations, including in relation to prior or current use of anabolic agents, including testosterone. It is lawful to offer sex categories in sport through the provisions in the Equality Act in respect of gender-affected sport.

Karate is a Gender Affected  Activity.

[1] UK Sports Councils Guidance for Transgender Inclusion in Domestic Sport, PDF download

1. Introduction

1.1 The Welsh Karate Governing Body (hereinafter the WKGB) is fully committed to the principles of equal opportunity and the elimination of unlawful and unfair discrimination.

1.2 WKGB  has developed a policy in respect of transgender people, which includes those who are transsexual and transgender, in all aspects of the Sport: athletes, employees, coaches, volunteers and spectators.

1.3 WKGB would refer you to the official report published by the UK’s Sports Council Equality Group (SCEG) for guidance and support on trans athletes.

1.4 Transgender people have their rights enshrined in UK legislation through the Equality Act 2010.

2. Statement of Intent

2.1 WKGB is fully committed to equality in terms of opportunity and open access. This includes commitment to protecting and tackling discrimination and ensuring that no employee, job applicant, volunteer or member receives less favourable treatment on the grounds of the protected characteristics of but not limited to, age, sex, race (including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins), disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity.

3. Purpose of the Policy

3.1 It is the responsibility of WKGB to regulate the participation of persons as competitors in WKGB Karate competitions to ensure that it provides fair competition and has due regard for the safety of all competitors.

3.2 Karate is a gender-affected sport where the physical strength, stamina or physique of an average person of one gender would put them at an advantage or a disadvantage to an average person of the other gender as competitors in the sport.

3.3 Under current UK legislation, Karate, as a gender-affected sport, may be regulated by WKGB in respect of the participation of transgender people in all aspects of the sport including: participants, employees, coaches, volunteers and spectators.

4. Legal Requirements

4.1 Under the Equality Act 2010, National Governing Bodies (NGB’s) must not restrict the participation of a transsexual person in a gender-affected sport unless this is necessary to uphold fair competition or the safety of other competitors.

4.2 Accordingly NGB’s should treat a transsexual person as belonging to the sex in which they present (as opposed to the biological sex they were born with) unless this might give the transsexual person an unfair advantage or would be a risk to the safety of competitors.

4.3 The WKGB adopts a zero-tolerance approach to transphobia. Transphobia includes the use or encouragement of discriminatory language or any behaviours directed towards anyone who identifies as transgender. Furthermore, this extends to a transgender person’s friend or supporter or anyone that may be perceived to be transgender (whether they are or not).

4.4 The behaviour may include a reluctance or refusal to provide access to services to the same extent as that provided for a non-transgender person.

4.5 The WKGB and its members must ensure that any unacceptable language and/or behaviour is appropriately challenged and sanctioned in accordance with pre-existing policies and procedures. Sanctions can vary but educational programmes should be considered. This is to ensure compliance with our duties under the Equality Act and in keeping with the WKGB’s Values. In doing so, the WKGB helps to create and maintain a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment for transgender people to participate in karate.

5. Policy and Implementation

5.1 WKGB will promote a zero-tolerance approach to transphobia. WKGB  and its employees, members and volunteers will ensure that any unacceptable behaviour and language is tackled effectively and appropriately and sanctions and/or educational programmes are implemented to ensure compliance and the creation of a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment for trans people.

6. Scope

6.1 This policy applies to all domestic competitions, events, training camps etc held under the auspices of the WKGB.

7. Definitions

7.1 Documented below are key definitions related to this policy:



Assigned Sex

The sex, male or female, assigned at birth based on physical characteristics

Gender-affected sport

Karate is ‘gender-affected’, and means that the average woman may always be at a disadvantage when competing against men.

Gender Dysphoria or gender identify disorder

A condition where someone experiences discomfort or distress because of a mismatch between their gender identity and sex assigned at birth. Signs can appear at a very young age e.g. a child refusing to wear typical clothes of their gender or taking part in non-typical games – this occasionally passes but usually continues to adulthood. The onset of puberty may increase the risk of self-harm, addiction or suicide.

Gender identity or affirmed gender

The gender to which a person identifies or has transitioned or is transitioning, and which is opposed to that which was assigned at birth. Every person has a right to be able to express their gender in a way that is comfortable to them. Always use a transgender person’s chosen name.

Gender Reassignment

A term used for a person proposing to undergo, is undergoing, or has undergone, a process or part of a process for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex. (Gender Reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.)

Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC)

Trans people whose birth was registered in the UK can apply to the Gender Recognition Panel to have their acquired/affirmed gender recorded on their birth certificate. If accepted, the applicant receives a GRC which permits the holder to be recognised for all legal purposes, Inc. marriage, in their acquired gender.


A condition where a child at birth doesn’t clearly appear male or female. Parents may be recommended to wait until the child can choose their own gender identity before any surgery is carried out.

Non-binary/ genderqueer/ gender fluid

Someone who defines their gender as falling somewhere in between man and woman; for example, those who are both man and woman, or neither man nor woman, or moving between genders.

Real-Life Experience/ living in full-time gender

The Real-Life Experience (RLE), is a period of time in which transgender people live fulltime in their preferred gender role. The purpose is to confirm that a transgender person can function successfully as a member of the opposite gender in society, and confirms that they are sure they want to live as that gender for the rest of their life.


The umbrella term for any person whose gender identity does not correspond to that person’s biological sex assigned at birth, and all cross over identities that challenge the socially constructed border between the genders. This includes androgyne, polygender, cross-dressing and transvestite people.

Transgender Woman or girl

A person assigned male at birth who identifies with the female gender, but has not necessarily transitioned.

Transgender Man or boy

A person assigned female at birth but identifies with the male gender, but has not necessarily transitioned.


Someone who is taking or has taken the 4-5-year complex medical process of changing their birth sex and their legal documentation to become the opposite sex.


Discriminatory, abusive or negative language or behaviour directed towards a transgender person, and may include refusal to provide access to services equal to non-trans people. It is as unacceptable as racism, sexism or homophobia.


A person who proposes, or undergoes, to realign their gender and sex through use of medical intervention.


Puberty is the process of physical changes through which a Child's body matures into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction. It is initiated by hormonal signals from the brain to the gonads: the ovaries in a girl, the testes in a boy.

On average, girls begin puberty at ages 10–11 and complete puberty at ages 15–17; boys generally begin puberty at ages 11–12 and complete puberty at ages 16–17. The major landmark of puberty for females is the onset of menstruation, which occurs on average between ages 12 and 13.

8. Confidentiality

8.1 It is illegal under the Gender Recognition Act 2004 for a person who has acquired information related to transgender in an official capacity to disclose this personal information unless explicit consent is gathered or in other very limited circumstances.

8.2 Any information relating to a transsexual person’s former gender (regardless of certification) is also likely to be classed as sensitive personal information under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR Regulations 2018.

9. Competition

9.1 Karate is a ‘Gender-Affected’ Activity (GAA) as defined by the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

9.2 The overriding sporting objective of Karate is the guarantee of fair and safe competition.

9.3 It is necessary to ensure insofar as possible that transgender athletes are not excluded from the opportunity to participate in sporting competition

9.4 Restrictions on participation are appropriate to the extent that they are necessary and proportionate to the achievement of that objective

9.5 It is the responsibility and a requirement of a transgender person to declare their status to the BKF to uphold the fair play objective.

9.6 Trans women, whether or not they have a “Gender Recognition Certificate” (GRC) can participate, attend training sessions, grade and become officials, coaches and volunteers; however, when it comes to competition, the WKGB  will act in accordance with Section 195 of  the Equality Act 2010 which documents:

“The Act allows transsexual competitors to be prohibited from competing where the physical strength, stamina or physique of average persons of one sex would put them at a disadvantage compared to average persons of the other sex and where such a prohibition is necessary for fair competition or the safety of competitors.”

9.7 In WKGB competitions Trans women cannot participate in female categories.

10. Competing in Kumite & Kata Categories

10.1 To eliminate the possibility of any unfair physical advantage that a transwoman may have in a female category, the WKGB will reserve the female category for those who were recorded female at birth and have not undergone transition.    

10.2 WKGB will establish an “Open Kata” category which will provide for those participants whose gender identity is different than their sex recorded at birth.

11. Non Binary

11.1 Under current UK Law Non-binary genders are not recognised. 

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) enables a person to change the sex recorded on their birth certificate, either from male to female or vice versa. It makes no provision for the recognition of any other gender.

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