Thursday, March 23, 2023

Swimming body FINA votes to ban transgender participation in elite women’s competition

, Swimming’s world governing body FINA on Sunday voted to form a working group to restrict the participation of transgender athletes in elite women’s competitions and establish an “open” category for them in certain events as part of its new policy. did.

Transgender rights have become a major issue as sports seek to balance inclusivity while ensuring that there is no unfair advantage.

The debate intensified after University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas became the first transgender NCAA champion in Division I history after winning the women’s 500-yard freestyle earlier this year.

Thomas has expressed his desire to compete for a place in the Olympics, but his participation will be blocked by new FINA rules.

FINA’s decision, the strictest by any Olympic sporting body, was made during its Extraordinary General Congress, when members heard a report from a transgender task force, which included prominent medical, legal and sporting figures.

The new eligibility policy for FINA competitions states that male-to-female transgender athletes are eligible to compete only if “they can establish to FINA’s comfortable satisfaction that they have completed Tanner Stage 2 (of puberty) or The male has not experienced any part of puberty before that. Age 12, whichever is later.”

The policy was passed with a nearly 71% majority after members of the 152 national federations with voting rights gathered for Congress at Puskas Arena.

FINA President Hussein Al-Musallam said, “We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness in our events, especially the women’s section in FINA competitions.”

“FINA will always welcome every athlete. The creation of an open category will mean that everyone will have the opportunity to compete at an elite level. This has not been done before, so FINA will need to take the lead. I want all athletes to feel able to develop ideas during this process.”

The new FINA policy also opens eligibility to those who have “complete androgen insensitivity and therefore cannot experience male puberty.”

Swimmers who have “suppressed male puberty at Tanner Stage 2 or before the age of 12, whichever is later, and have since then consistently lowered their testosterone levels to 2.5 nmol/L in serum (or plasma)”. maintained below.” Women are also allowed to participate in the race.

highly divisive

Female-to-male transgender athletes (transgender men) are fully eligible to participate in men’s swimming competitions.

The issue of transgender inclusion in sport is highly divisive, particularly in the United States where it has become a weapon in the so-called “culture war” between conservatives and progressives.

Advocates of transgender inclusion argue that the effects of transition on physical performance are not yet sufficiently studied, and that elite athletes are often physically outsiders in any case.

The International Olympic Committee issued a ‘framework’ on the issue, leaving eligibility decisions up to individual sporting bodies, but adding that “unless evidence determines otherwise, athletes should be treated unfairly or otherwise because of their gender differences.” Should not be considered inconsistent competitive advantage, physical appearance and/or transgender status.”

Athletes Allies, an advocacy group for LGBTQI+ people in sport, condemned FINA’s decision.

She said in a post, “FINA’s new eligibility criteria for transgender athletes and athletes with intersex variation is discriminatory, harmful, unscientific and not in line with 2021 IOC principles. If we really want to protect women’s sport, then We must include all women,” he said in a post. on Twitter.

Former swimmer Sharon Davis, who won Olympic silver at the 1980 Games and has been a vocal campaigner for a more restrictive policy, welcomed the decision.

“I cannot tell you how proud I am of my sport, FINA and the FINA President doing science, asking athletes/coaches and standing up for fair play for women. Swimming will always welcome everyone no matter how you Recognize but fairness is a cornerstone of the game.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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