The World swimming’s governing body declared that starting Monday transgender women will be banned from competing in women’s events.
The international federation recognized by the International Olympic Committee for administering international competition in water sports, known as FINA, made the decision on banning transgender women in international swimming competition.
On Sunday, FINA members adopted a new “gender inclusion policy” permitting swimmers who transitioned before 12 to compete in women’s events along with proposing a new “open competition category.”
James Pearce, spokesperson for FINA president Husain Al-Musallam, told the Associated Press that “This is not saying that people are encouraged to transition by the age of 12. It’s what the scientists are saying, that if you transition after the start of puberty, you have an advantage, which is unfair.” Pearce continued saying, “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 went on discussing the new “open competition category” stating, “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. So there are no details of how that would work. The open category is something that will start being discussed tomorrow.”
The decision to ban transgender women from women’s swimming events came after the organizations general congress heard presentations from three different specialist groups. The groups were an athlete group, a science and medicine group and a legal and human rights group. Following their presentations members of the organization’s congress voted 71.5% in favor of the change.
This is a huge change in the international regulations for women’s swimming and it will be interesting to see how other governing bodies for athletics respond.
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