Trans-Identifying Male Medals In Women’s Race At World Para Athletics Championships
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 13: Valentina Petrillo of Italy celebrates after the Women's 400m T12 Final during day six of the Para Athletics World Championships Paris 2023 at Stade Charlety on July 13, 2023 in Paris, France.
(Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Valentina Petrillo, an Italian man who identifies as a woman, took third place in the women’s 400-meter T12 race at the 2023 Paris World Para Athletics Championships.

Petrillo, 49, who was running in the category for those with visual impairments, finished behind Omara Durand of Cuba (52.82) and Alejandra Perez Lopez of Venezuela (57.88) with a time of 58.24 seconds. Coming in fourth place was Moroccan runner Fatima Zahra El Idrissi. 

Since identifying as a woman, Petrillo has claimed several women’s records and titles, including Italian visually impaired runner’s records for the 200-meter T12 (27.17) and the indoor 400-meter T13 (59.77).

“It’s shocking to see that women’s opportunities to a medal were taken by a cheating 49-year-old male,” former Canadian Olympic Coach Peter Eriksson told Reduxx. “The International Paralympic Committee is diminishing the rights of fairness in women’s sport by allowing transgender athletes at their events.”

According to guidelines from World Para Athletics, athletes eligible to compete in the women’s category are those who are “recognized as female in law.” The guidelines also say that World Para Athletics will “deal with any cases involving transgender athletes” in line with International Olympic Commission (IOC) Guidelines. 

The IOC rolled out new guideline principles in December to regulate the participation of transgender-identifying athletes. 

Factors considered by the IOC include: “inclusion,” “prevention of harm,” “non-discrimination,” “fairness,” “no presumption of advantage,” an “evidence-based approach,” “primacy of health and bodily autonomy,” “stakeholder-centered approach,” “right to privacy” and “periodic reviews.”


World Athletics banned transgender-identifying athletes in March 2023 from competing against women in female World Rankings competitions.

World Athletics is the international governing body for sprints, middle/long, hurdles, road running, jumps, throws, combined events, race walks, relays, cross country, mountain running, ultra running, and trail running.

“We will be guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage which will inevitably develop over the coming years. As more evidence becomes available, we will review our position, but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount,” World Athletic President Sebastian Coe said at the time. 

Eriksson told Reduxx that the World Para Olympics should use World Athletic guidelines and not the IOC policies. 

“It’s a cop-out not to make a stance in support of women in sport. It feels kind of like they are trying to push the blame onto the IOC,” Eriksson says. “They adapted World Athletics rules and should also adopt the World Athletics regulation on transgender and DSD participation.”

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