A transgender cricketer has reignited a row over who should be allowed to play women’s sports after becoming a star this season.
Maxine Blythin, who is more than 6ft tall, has a batting average of 124 and has hit four centuries.
But her success as Kent’s first transgender woman cricketer – playing in the Women’s Cricket Southern League – has upset campaign group Fair Play For Women.
Star player: Maxine Blythin (pictured in action), who is more than 6ft tall, has a batting average of 124 and has hit four centuries
Trans women players are only tested for testosterone levels if they are selected to play for England – in line with England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) rules.
Fair Play For Women said the policy was unfair at a time when the game is improving opportunities for female players.
Dr Nicola Williams, director of the group, said: ‘Female-only teams are vital to uphold fair competition for women in cricket.
‘Opening up the women’s game to cross-dressing males who do nothing more than ‘identify as a woman’ shows utter contempt for the women’s game.
‘The ECB say they are proud of their ‘inclusive policy’ when in reality this policy will exclude women from their own game.
Miss Blythin (pictured towering above her teammates) success as Kent’s first transgender woman cricketer – playing in the Women’s Cricket Southern League – has upset campaign group Fair Play For Women
‘Your average male player will be able to walk into the few paid, professional opportunities created by the ECB for exceptional women.
‘No reasonable person can say this is fair or right.
‘Ways must be found to encourage more trans people to play sport but sacrificing the women’s game is not the answer. If you were born male you can’t play female sport – it is as simple as that.’
Last week, Fair Play For Women tweeted: ‘Letting males who self-identify as women play in women’s competitions is demonstrably unfair.
‘The ECB knows males have a performance advantage over females. This is why it lets women use lighter and smaller cricket balls and why boundaries are set closer.’
It came after Cricket Australia last week said testosterone levels would be tested in non-professional leagues.
The move was influenced by controversy over transgender players such as Erica James, 44, who transitioned three years ago.
It came after Cricket Australia last week said testosterone levels would be tested in non-professional leagues. The move was influenced by controversy over transgender players such as Erica James (pictured), 44, who transitioned three years ago
She took female hormones two months before taking up cricket again in 2016.
The ECB is thought to be worried about a backlash against transgender players.
A spokesman for the governing body said: ‘Our position on transgender participation will be reviewed as part of our ongoing commitment to regularly review all governance policies.
‘This will take place as part of a business-as-usual principle – and not in response to the Cricket Australia policy around trans athlete participation.
‘In our current policy, the eligibility of players is based on one’s own self-identified gender, with no medical requirement.
‘We are unlikely to make any unilateral changes to this stance. We are proud that this model promotes an inclusive environment for all participants in domestic and recreational cricket.’
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova stoked controversy when she said trans women competing in sport was ‘insane’ and amounted to ‘cheating’.
Former British swimmer Sharron Davies has said transgender athletes could ‘potentially game the system’ by competing in women’s sports when they have a male sex advantage.
Kent Cricket chief Simon Storey said the club was ‘committed to promoting diversity and inclusion’ within the sport.
He added: ‘Our policy on transgender athletes is in line with ECB policy and is applied consistently across all levels of the game in Kent.’
Miss Blythin was not available for comment.