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Swimming’s world governing body FINA voted to ban athletes who have gone through male puberty from competing in women’s events. Member federations passed a new gender inclusion policy with more than 70 percent approval during a congress set up during the World Championships in Budapest, currently ongoing.
Transgender athletes won’t completely be eliminated from all competition, though. FINA will set up a working group to establish an open competition category. Athletes “without regard to their sex, their legal gender, or their gender identity” will compete in that category.
The decision to make the policy change was one made out of fairness.
FINA president Husain Al-Musallam said: “We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events,
FINA’s 34-page policy document clarifies that male-to-female transgender athletes are still eligible to compete in the women’s category “provided they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 [which marks the start of physical development], or before age 12, whichever is later”.
Frankly, this makes sense. Transgender athletes shouldn’t be given special opportunities, especially when it is a biological male competing against women athletes. It essentially cancels women athletics. There has been much written about the physiological differences between transgender women and biological women with whom they compete. Lia Thomas has been allowed to compete with college women and shuts them out of victories they have worked for over the years of their competitive careers. Thomas admitted that she doesn’t intend to stop at college competition, she intends to work on competing at the Olympics. She has an agenda and feels entitled enough that she expects everyone to just accept her demands to compete. It’s wrong and it’s unfair to women athletes.
Lia Thomas will not be able to compete, except in whatever new category FINA comes up with in an open competition category. If Thomas wants to break new ground, let her do it among other transgender athletes. The tide may be beginning to turn. Two weeks ago, cycling’s governing body, the UCI, voted to double the period of time before a cyclist transitioning from male to female can compete. It’s not a ban but it slows down the changes.
FINA’s new policy begins today. The point is that scientists say that transitioning after the start of puberty, you have an unfair advantage. FINA president’s spokesperson explained there are no transgender women competing at elite levels in swimming now anyway.
“They’re not saying everyone should transition by age 11, that’s ridiculous. You can’t transition by that age in most countries and hopefully you wouldn’t be encouraged to. Basically, what they’re saying is that it is not feasible for people who have transitioned to compete without having an advantage.”
Pearce confirmed there are currently no transgender women competing in elite levels of swimming.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health just lowered its recommended minimum age for starting gender transition hormone treatment to 14 and some surgeries to 15 or 17.
The spokesperson admits no one really knows what is going to happen with the open competition category.
“No one quite knows how this is going to work. And we need to include a lot of different people, including transgender athletes, to work out how it would work,” he said. “So there are no details of how that would work. The open category is something that will start being discussed tomorrow.”
None of this should have to be accommodated in sports. Maybe the open competition category will turn out to be like mixed doubles in tennis, men and women teaming up against other men and women. What a mess.