Four-time Olympic gold medalist Cate Campbell of Australia has come out in support of the world governing body for swimming’s decision to effectively ban biological male athletes from competing in women’s events.
In a speech delivered to the congress of FINA, the sport’s governing body, Campbell emphasized the importance of separating gender categories.
She said that separation in her sport is one of the only reasons why women are seen as equals.. The removal of the distinction “would be to the detriment of female athletes everywhere,” Campbell said.
“We see you, value you and accept you. My role; however, is also to stand up here, having asked our world governing body, FINA, to investigate, deliberate and uphold the cornerstone of fairness in elite women’s competition,” she said.
“And it pains me that this part of my role may injure, infuriate and potentially alienate people from an already-marginalized trans community.”
She said she arrived at the conclusion that, no matter what she said on the subject, it would wind up angering some people.
“I am asking everyone to take a breath, to absorb before reacting. Listen to the science and experts. Listen to the people who stand up here and tell you how difficult it has been to reconcile inclusion and fairness. That men and women are physiologically different cannot be disputed. We are only now beginning to explore and understand the origins of these physiological differences and the lasting effects of exposure to differing hormones,” she said.
“That men and women are physiologically different cannot be disputed.”
The new FINA ruling, which went into effect on Monday, will only permit swimmers who transitioned prior to the age of 12 to compete in women’s events. More than 70% of FINA members voted to affirm the new policy.