International Swimming Federation, ‘transgender athlete who spent puberty as a male cannot participate in the women’s division’

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The International Swimming Federation (FINA) announced on the 19th (local time) that it will effectively ban transgender athletes who have spent puberty as males from participating in the women’s event.

He also proposed creating an ‘open’ section for transgender and current gender players.

This ‘include new gender’ policy was passed with 71% of the 152 members of the FINA executive committee in favor.

The Swimming Federation said the decision was “a first step towards full inclusion” for trans athletes.

According to the 34-page policy report, transgender players who have transitioned from male to female can compete in women’s events only if they demonstrate that they have “not undergone male puberty after the second stage of sexual maturity or prior to age 12.”

FINA made this decision by holding an extraordinary general meeting and voting in Budapest, Hungary, where the World Aquatics Championships is being held.

Prior to this vote, a report was received from a committee made up of key figures from the medical, legal, and sports fields.

Meanwhile, FINA’s decision makes it difficult for American transgender swimmer Leah Thomas to participate in the Olympics.

“FINA has formulated this policy in an inclusive, science-based and inclusive way,” said Brent Nowicky, FINA Director. “Above all, FINA emphasizes the fairness of competition.”

FINA Chairman Hussein Al-Musalam also said that FINA is committed to “protecting the fairness of competition” while “protecting the right of athletes to compete”.

“FINA welcomes all athletes. The proposal for a new open division is that everyone has the right to compete at the elite level. This has never been done before, so FINA will lead the way.” I hope that all players will come up with ideas in this process without feeling that they are being excluded.”

Meanwhile, former British national swimmer Sharon Davis, who has opposed transgender athletes from participating in the women’s elite level competition, said in an interview with BBC Sports, “I’m really proud of FINA.”

He added, “FINA made a scientific decision. It made a decision based on science, and listened to the opinions of players and coaches.”

“Swimming is a very inclusive sport, and I love that everyone can come and swim,” he added.

Asked whether FINA’s decision would leave transgender players “in a state of uncertainty” until a new open division was established, Davis said that the forum for transgender player inclusion “should have been done five years ago” supported the decision.

Sports are inherently exclusive,” Davis said. “No 15-year-old boy competes in the under-12 division, no heavyweight boxer fights a bantamweight. To give them a fair chance.”

“This is why we divide sports events into categories, and (without these restrictions) it is only women players that are separated. They are deprived of the right to play sports fairly,” he added.

On the other hand, ‘Athlet Alley’, which supports LGBTQ athletes, raised their voice, saying that this FINA’s decision is “discriminatory, harmful, unscientific, and inconsistent with the IOC’s 2021 principles.”

Athlete Alley also organized a support letter campaign for swimmer Thomas in February.

Anne Lieberman, ‘Athlet Alley’ Policy and Program Officer, said: “The women’s qualification criteria set out in FINA’s policy apply to all women’s bodies, and this policy does not seriously infringe on the privacy and human rights of athletes who wish to compete in the women’s division. will not be enforced.”

Leah Thomas previously played in the men's college team before starting hormone replacement therapy in 2019.

photo source, Getty Images

picture explanation,

Leah Thomas previously played in the men’s college team before starting hormone replacement therapy in 2019.

In addition to cycling, swimming rules are strengthened

Meanwhile, according to FINA’s decision, the topic is focused on Leah Thomas, a transgender swimmer from the University of Pennsylvania.

Thomas won his first individual title in the 500-yard freestyle event of the Avi League Championship in March.

Thomas previously played for three seasons on the men’s college swim team before starting hormone replacement therapy in 2019.

More than 300 swimmers, including college students, U.S. national teams and Olympic athletes, have signed an open letter in support of Thomas and other transgender and non-binary athletes, but expressed concern over transgender athletes’ participation in the women’s division. There are players and groups.

Some fellow players on the same team as Thomas and their parents supported Thomas’s right to change, but issued an anonymous letter arguing that it was unfair for Thomas to play as a woman.

Earlier in February, the American Swimming Federation changed its rules regarding transgender swimmers who switched from male to female.

As a result, transgender athletes are required to keep their blood testosterone levels below the threshold for 36 months prior to competing for equity.

A transgender athlete participated in the Tokyo Olympics last year for the first time. New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who turned into a woman, is the protagonist.

Expert opinion?

Dr. Michael Joyner (physiologist)

“The increase in testosterone during puberty in men is a physiologically crucial factor in human performance. This may explain why humans differ in performance between the sexes. These gender differences become more pronounced around the age of 12. .”

“Even if testosterone is suppressed (such as by hormone suppression therapy), the performance-enhancing effects of testosterone will remain.”

Dr. Adrian Zuko (human rights activist, researcher, lawyer)

“(FINA) emphasizes that this policy is not intended to restrict swimmers from competing in or breaking records based on their legal gender, gender identity or gender expression.”

“Personally, I think this policy is the first step in the water sports world to embrace and support athletes of different genders, including transgender people. There is still more work to be done.”

Dr. Sandra Hunter (exercise physiologist)

“Once you’re over 14, the gap between men and women is huge, because[men]have high testosterone levels and have a Y chromosome, which is physiologically advantageous.”

“These physical benefits include those that are fundamental to the body’s structure, such as height, limb length, heart and lung size. These benefits will persist as you transition from male to female and suppress or decrease testosterone.”

Summer Sanders (USA former Olympic women’s gold medalist in swimming)

“It’s not an easy matter. There has to be a section for trans women and trans men, including a women’s department and a men’s department.”

“Fair competition is a support and essential element of our society. Fair competition helps preserve the integrity of traditional sports competition, which draws millions of girls and women each year.”

hot topic in sports

Regarding the participation of transgender athletes in sports events, opinions within and outside the sports world are divided.

There are many voices saying that women should not participate in the women’s division because of the advantages that transgender athletes can have, but there are also arguments that the sport should be more inclusive.

International Athletics Federation president Sebastian Coe, a former British middle-distance sprinter, said the “integrity” and “future” of women’s sports would be “very precarious” if sports organizations misapplied the rules regarding transgender athletes. .

At the heart of the debate surrounding transgender athletes’ competition in the women’s division is essentially the balance between inclusiveness and fairness and safety in the sport. That is, can these players compete in the women’s division without undue advantage or risk injuring their competitors.

Currently, in some sports, only transgender athletes who follow the rules, such as keeping testosterone levels below the standard for a set period before the competition, are allowed to participate.

However, it is controversial that athletes who go through puberty as males will continue to have physical advantages even if they suppress testosterone levels later.

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