As part of its new policy, FINA voted to restrict transgender athletes’ participation in top women’s competitions and to create a working group to establish an “open” category for them in select events.
FINA members overwhelmingly approved a new “gender inclusivity policy” that allows only swimmers who transitioned before the age of 12 to compete in women’s competitions. An “open competition category” was also recommended by the group.
“This is not to mean that people under the age of 12 are encouraged to transition. The scientists are arguing that if you transition after puberty begins, you have an advantage, which is unjust,” James Pearce, a spokesperson for FINA president Husain Al-Musallam, told The Associated Press.
There are currently no transgender women participating at the elite level of swimming, according to Pearce. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health has recently dropped the recommended minimum age for beginning gender transition hormone treatment to 14 years old, and for some operations to 15 or 17 years old.
After hearing presentations from three specialist groups — an athlete group, a science and medicine group, and a legal and human rights group — that had been working together to form the policy following recommendations given by the International Olympic Committee last November, the members voted 71.5 percent in favor at the organization’s extraordinary general congress.
“Some individuals and groups may be uncomfortable with the use of medical and scientific terminology related to sex and sex-related traits,” according to FINA, “but” “some use of sensitive terminology is needed to be precise about the sex characteristics that justify separate competition categories.”
Netizens took to twitter to appreciate this decision. One twitter user @cath_heseltine appreciated the decision by tweeting, “Thank you for safeguarding women’s elite swimming. Science and fairness have prevailed. My earliest ambition was to be a professional swimmer and I’m so happy little girls can still have that dream. You’ve set an example for other sporting bodies.”
Thank you for safeguarding women’s elite swimming! Science and fairness have prevailed! My earliest ambition was to be a professional swimmer and I’m so happy little girls can still have that dream 😀. You’ve set an example for other sporting bodies. #SaveWomensSports
— Catherine Heseltine (@cath_heseltine) June 19, 2022
Another twitter user @Gigihasthoughts also appreciated by tweeting, “Thank you for respecting women’s rights. And to preempt anyone that thinks I’m against trans rights, I’m not. A third category is the most fair option to account for the advantage that biology provides to trans athletes.”
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