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Transgender swimmers in elite women's competition effectively banned

The world swimming governing body has decided to ban transgender swimmers from participating in the elite women’s races.

FINA will investigate the possibility of creating an “open” category to them at certain events as part its new policy.

After being presented to the 152 members of national federations with voting rights, who had gathered at the Puskas arena for the congress, the new policy was approved with an approximate 71% majority.

Transgender competitors must have completed their transition by 12 years in order to compete in women’s competitions.


FINA stated that male-to female transgender athletes would be eligible to compete if they can prove to FINA that they have not experienced male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2, (of puberty), or before age 12.

FINA President Husain Al-Musallam stated: “We must protect the rights for our athletes to compete but we also need to protect fairness at our events.

“FINA will always be open to all athletes. Everyone will have the chance to compete at elite levels by creating an open category. FINA must lead this effort as it has never been done before. All athletes should feel included and be able to share their ideas in this process.

Transgender rights have become a topic of discussion as sports try to balance inclusion while maintaining an unfair advantage.

It was a hot topic after Lia Thomas, a University of Pennsylvania swimmer, became the first transgender NCAA champion. She won the 500-yard freestyle for women earlier this year.

It was New Zealand’s weightlifter Laurel Hubbard who became the first transgender Olympic athlete to compete in Tokyo.

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First transgender person selected for Games

FINA also allows those with “complete androgen insensitivity” to be eligible for the new policy.

The following athletes have had their “male puberty suppressed” starting at Tanner Stage 2 or earlier than age 12. They have maintained their testosterone levels in plasma (or serum) below 2.5 nmol/L since then. FINA also allows women to compete in the women’s races.

The article also stated that transgender female athletes (transgender men), are eligible to compete at men’s swimming events.

Athlete Ally is an LGBTQ advocacy group for athletics. It responded to the announcement by stating that the criteria are discriminatory.

On Twitter, they posted: “[It] discriminates, harms, is unscientific, and is not in accord with the 2021 IOC Principles.” We must include all women if we are to truly protect women’s sport.

Sharron Davies, a former British Olympic swimmer, tweeted her delight at the announcement.

She stated that she was proud of her sport @fina and @fina_president because they did the science, asked the coaches and stood up for fair sports for women. No matter your identity, swimming will always be open to everyone. However fairness is the cornerstone for sport.

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, stated in May that transgender inclusion cannot be achieved through a sport-wide approach.

In the last year, controversy surrounding transgender athletes participating in female categories of sports has been in the news in swimming, cycling and weightlifting.

Olympic champion Katie Archibald criticized the UCI last month for its transgender policies. Trans athlete Emily Bridges was ultimately expelled from the British Omnium Championships.

Image Lia Thomas was the first transgender NCAA Champion in Division I history

Lord Coe, president of World Athletics, stated that women’s sports would be “fragile” without federations achieving this right.

There has been a call to create an open category for transgender athletes.

Bach stated that the IOC will continue to support sports in making “science-based” decisions.

He stated at a May press conference that there is no “one-size-fits all” solution. We all believe that fair competition is the goal. Sport must be accessible to all at the grassroots level.

Fair competition is essential when it comes to sport and competition. This means you need to identify sport by sport and discipline by discipline where there may be an unfair advantage.


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