Canada’s Danielle McGahey to be first transgender international cricketer
Canada’s Danielle McGahey is set to become the first transgender cricketer to play in an official international match.
McGahey has been included in Canada’s squad for a qualifying tournament on the pathway to the 2024 Women’s T20 World Cup in Bangladesh.
The 29-year-old opening batter has fulfilled all of the eligibility criteria the International Cricket Council (ICC) has for male-to-female transgender players before the event in Los Angeles from September 4-11.
McGahey’s participation comes despite other sports – including athletics, cycling, swimming and both codes of rugby – banning transgender women from taking part in elite women’s competition.
A spokeswoman for the Women’s Rights Network (WRN) – a group which says it seeks to “defend the sex-based rights of women” – said transgender women had a “significant advantage” over athletes whose sex is recorded as female at birth, and called the ICC’s policy “unfair and unsafe”.
McGahey emigrated from Australia to Canada in February 2020, socially transitioned to a woman in November 2020 and started medically transitioning in May 2021.
McGahey told BBC Sport: “I am absolutely honoured. To be able to represent my community is something I never dreamed I would be able to do.”
What is the ICC’s stance on transgender women?
The ICC’s player eligibility regulations released in 2018 (and amended in 2021) state trans women wishing to play women’s international cricket must demonstrate “the concentration of testosterone in her serum has been less than 5 nmol/L1 continuously for a period of at least 12 months, and that she is ready, willing and able to continue to keep it below that level for so long as she continues to compete”.
The ICC also states a male-to-female trans player must “provide a written and signed declaration, in a form satisfactory to the designated medical officer, that her gender identity is female”.
McGahey said: “In order to determine [my testosterone levels], I’ve been doing blood tests every month now for over two years. I also have to put in my player profile who I have played against and how many runs I’ve scored.
“A lot of work with my doctor sending my medical information through to the ICC… they have a dedicated medical officer who looks over all of the information provided, and determines whether or not I have provided enough for an expert panel to make a decision.
“The need to do blood tests every month is probably the biggest challenge because when you are playing cricket you are travelling a lot.
“It’s very personal in terms of the information you are giving over – all your medical information, history of puberty, any surgeries. There’s a lot in it. But the protocols are there and it has been used as intended.”
WRN spokeswoman Jane Sullivan believes sporting categories should be kept separate on the basis of sex recorded at birth, and criticised the ICC for its eligibility criteria.
Sullivan told BBC Sport: “There are currently 17 peer-reviewed studies that show we cannot mitigate against male puberty when it comes to sporting performance.
“On average, men – however they identify – have bigger muscle mass, larger skeletons, bigger lung capacity, more fast-twitch muscles. It’s been proven that even 14-year-old boys can be faster and stronger than world-class female athletes.
“Any cricket team that has an individual who has been through male puberty already has an unfair advantage over an all-female side.
“As an organisation, we don’t want to see anyone banned from sport – it’s for everyone. But women’s sport must be fair – and safe – for the women taking part.”
In accordance with Cricket Canada’s regulations for domestic competitions, McGahey has been able to participate in the country’s women’s inter-provincial tournament based solely on gender self-identification.
Her performances with the bat brought her to the attention of the national team’s selectors and she played four international T20 matches in October 2022 at the South American Championships, where Canada were invited to take part as guests.
Those fixtures did not hold official T20 international status so she was free to play as a transgender woman without the need to fulfil any ICC criteria.
“Within five months of playing my first game with the women in Canada, I was in Brazil,” McGahey said.
“The board was all over it – ‘So OK, who is this?’ – and we kind of went from there. I basically got told two weeks before that I was going to be going to Brazil and representing Canada.
“Obviously I felt a huge sense of pride. Not only for what I’m doing, but for my [trans] community. Being able to represent them.”
McGahey’s place in Canada’s squad for the ICC T20 World Cup qualifying tournament was confirmed on August 27.
An ICC statement said: “We can confirm that Danielle went through the process as required under the ICC’s player eligibility regulations and as a result has been deemed eligible to participate in international women’s cricket on the basis that she satisfies the MTF transgender eligibility criteria.”
A spokesperson for Cricket Canada said: “Danielle’s selection was based on ICC’s player eligibility regulations for male-to-female transgender players.
“Danielle sent through her application to the ICC and Cricket Canada followed the process as per the ICC rules, which made Danielle’s selection to the Canadian team possible.” (BBC Sport)