World Swimming Federation excludes most transgender women from elite events, but weighs in ‘Open competition’ category


Swimming’s international governing body voted on Sunday to largely bar transgender athletes from competing at the elite level of women’s swimming, but will consider introducing new “open competition” events, a move that follows months of controversy and was touted by the organization as a way to balance inclusion with competitive fairness.


The new policy from governing body FINA prohibits swimmers who transitioned after the age of 12, or those who cannot establish that they “have not experienced any part of male puberty”. , to participate in women’s events.

FINA said in a statement that 71.5% of the organization’s voting members voted in favor of the new policy, which takes effect on Monday.

FINA President Husain Al-Musallam said in a statement that the federation must “protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we must also protect the fairness of competition at our events.”

The federation’s new policy also included proposals for an “open competition” category for athletes who do not meet the criteria for either men’s or women’s competitions – a FINA working group plans to discuss how to implement this. idea over the next six months.

crucial quote

James Pearce, a spokesman for Al-Musallam, told The Associated Press that FINA made the decision because some scientists have concluded that a person transitions after the onset of puberty, they have a advantage. “[The new policy is]


Former University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who has been a central figure in the debate, defended her right to compete in women’s sports last month after becoming the first transgender athlete to win an individual national title of the NCAA Division I in March. Thomas, who said she aspired to swim in the US Olympic trials, said hello america that “trans people don’t transition to athletics, we transition to be happy”.

Key context

FINA’s new policy comes days after the World Professional Association for Transgender Health updated its guidelines to lower the minimum recommended age to start gender hormone treatment from 16 to 14 and set the age minimum for some surgeries at 15 or 17, which means most trans kids. will not begin transitioning until age 12. Although research on the performance of transgender athletes is limited, there has been an increase in legislation in the United States banning or preventing transgender athletes from participating in sporting events in recent years. According to New York Times. The NCAA, the organization that regulates American college athletics, changed its rules in January to allow individual sports to determine their own eligibility rules for transgender athletes. Previous NCAA policy required transgender athletes to have undergone one year of testosterone suppression treatment to compete on a women’s sports team.

Further reading

Treatment for trans children can start younger, according to new guidelines (The Associated Press)

Why doctors are divided on gender-affirming care for children (The New York Times)

‘We Transition To Be Happy’: Lia Thomas fends off critics of transgender athletes (Forbes)

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Post expires at 2:35pm on Thursday June 30th, 2022