On June 19, the International Swimming Federation (FINA), which governs elite international swimming competitions, restricted the participation of transgender athletes in women’s competitions. However, he promised to create a working group to establish an “open” category for them.
The controversy of transgender women competing in swimming at the highest level came to the fore after University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas became the first transgender National Collegiate Athletic Association champion in Division I history, in the United States earlier this year.
Just last November, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) published its regulatory framework on equity, inclusion and non-discrimination, with respect to gender identity and sexual variations.
In addition, he noted his commitment to human rights and inclusion and called on the governing bodies of various sports to come up with their own guidelines for the sports in question.
The new eligibility policy for FINA competitions was approved with a majority of 71 percent of the votes of 152 FIN members, gathered for the congress at the Puskas Arena, in Budapest, Hungary.
The 34-page document establishes that for transgender women to compete in the same-sex category, they cannot have passed male puberty. That is, the treatment that is applied to carry out the gender change must have been carried out before the age of 12.
Another of the guidelines that FINA adopts in its new regulations is the establishment of a limit on the levels of testosterone allowed to compete in the female category. The maximum amount will be 2.5 nanomoles per liter of blood.
During his speech at an extraordinary congress of the International Swimming Federation, its president, Husain Al-Musallam, spoke about it and emphasized that the goal of the new policy is to balance inclusion and ensure that there is no unfair advantage:
We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness in our events, especially in the women’s category of competitions. FINA will always welcome all athletes. The creation of an open category will mean that everyone has the opportunity to compete at an elite level. This has not been done before, so FINA will have to lead the way.
According to various reports on the new FINA policy, including ESPN’s, this would prohibit almost all transgender women from competing in women’s swimming competitions. The guidelines also allude to the possibility of establishing “an open category in aquatic sports disciplines, in which an athlete who meets the eligibility criteria for that event could compete regardless of their sex, legal gender or gender identity.”
The American non-profit LGBTQI+ athlete advocacy organization, Athlete Ally, rejected the new FINA guidelines in the following Twitter post:
FINA’s new eligibility criteria for transgender athletes and athletes with intersex variations is discriminatory, harmful, unscientific and not in line with the 2021 IOC principles. If we truly want to protect women’s sports, we must include all women. https://t.co/MDjrWB6GrU
— Athlete Ally (@AthleteAlly) June 19, 2022
FINA’s new eligibility criteria for transgender athletes and athletes with intersex variations are discriminatory, harmful, unscientific and not in line with IOC principles, 2021. If we truly want to protect women’s sports, we must include all women .