Swimming’s world governing body has decided to exclude trans athletes from competing in women’s races if they have completed any stage of the male puberty process.
In order to compete in women’s competitions, participants must have completed their transition by the age of 12 under new rules approved today by Fina, swimming’s world governing body.
Fina’s 152 members endorsed the measure with 71% of their votes.
Swimmers whose gender identity differs from their birth sex will compete in an “open” division, according to the governing organization.
Fina’s new policy will take effect immediately.
Sharron Davies, a former Olympic swimmer, said the ruling gave her ‘pride’ in the sport. She has always advocated for sports equality and justice, and she has spoken out against transgender swimmers in women’s competitions.
She wrote: “I can’t tell you how proud I am of my sport @fina & @fina_president for doing the science, asking the athletes/coaches, and standing up for fair sport for females. “Swimming will always welcome everyone no matter how you identify but fairness is the cornerstone of sport.”
Scientific experts who advised the Fina panel concluded: “there will be persistent legacy effects that give male-to-female transgender athletes (transgender women) a relative performance advantage over biological females.
“A biological female athlete cannot overcome that advantage through training or nutrition.
“Nor can they take additional testosterone to obtain the same advantage, because testosterone is a prohibited substance under the World Anti-Doping Code.”
Former UK championship swimmer Karen Pickering posted online: “The FINA transgender policy has been passed by a majority vote by commission members. Based on science and fairness no male who has gone through puberty will be eligible to compete in women’s FINA events or break a Women’s FINA World Record.
“Science proves a retained advantage of height, longer limbs, bigger heart, etc brought on by male puberty regardless of suppression of testosterone after much care and thought for transgender athletes who may not be able to compete in the category they feel their gender ID aligns too but competitive fairness to women’s category must be protected.
“In addition for eligibility into the women’s category, the swimmer must show proof they haven’t taken blockers after the age of 12.
“I was at the FINA congress for the presentation, discussion and vote and I can vouch for the care and empathy displayed for any athletes who won’t now be able to compete in the category their gender ID may align to.
“The science shows that this is one of the few occasions in a sport where inclusion and fairness are not compatible.”
Lia Thomas, an American swimmer, brought the matter to the public’s attention.
In March, she became the first transgender swimmer to win the women’s 500-yard freestyle at the national college level in the United States.
Hundreds of people submitted letters of support for Lia, while other athletes and organizations have expressed reservations about transgender athletes competing against biological women.
Trans women are not a threat to women’s sport.’
In response to Sharron Davies’ tweet celebrating the news, many shared the same view. One wrote: ‘Finally someone in sport has some common sense. No other sports have to follow this example.’
Another said: ‘It should be in all amateur sports as well, not just elite sports,’ and one other similarly added: ‘Now for the other sporting governing bodies.’
Sports scientist Ross Tucker tweeted: ‘Thank you FINA for listening to women, your own swimmers and coaches, and to science in creating a policy that respects women’s sport.’