The International Swimming Federation votes against letting transgender athletes compete in elite women's swimming events.
The International Swimming Federation (FINA) has voted to approve a new rule that will keep most transgender athletes from competing in elite women's aquatics competitions.
The new "gender inclusion" policy was approved by the world governing body for swimming on Sunday. At the FINA Extraordinary General Congress 2022, 71.5 percent of member federations voted in favor.
The new gender inclusion policy, which will go into effect on June 20, 2022, says that male-to-female transgender athletes will only be able to compete in the women's categories in FINA competitions if they transition before the age of 12 or before they reach stage two on the Tanner Scale of puberty.
The policy also says that athletes who have used testosterone as part of female-to-male gender-affirming hormone treatment will only be allowed to compete in women's events if they used testosterone for less than a year in total, the treatment didn't happen during puberty, and testosterone levels in serum are back to where they were before the treatment.
As a result of the vote, FINA said it will set up a new working group to create open category events for swimmers who don't meet the rules for the men's or women's categories.
FINA is in charge of swimming, water polo, diving, artistic swimming, swimming in open water, and high diving in the water.
FINA President Husain Al-Musallam said, "We have to protect the right of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect fairness in our events, especially in the women's category at FINA competitions." "Everyone will always be welcome at FINA. By making an open category, everyone will have the chance to compete at an elite level. Since this has never been done before, FINA will have to set the example. I want all of the athletes to feel like they have a voice in this process and can come up with ideas."
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) released its Framework on Fairness, Inclusion, and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations in November 2021. It said that no athlete should be kept out of a competition because it is thought that they have an advantage because of their gender. It also said that a testosterone proxy was not enough to keep a person from competing in the women's category.
A few months later, in January 2022, the International Federation of Sports Medicine and the European Federation of Sports Medicine Associations put out a joint statement that disagreed with parts of the IOC's position.
FINA says it responded by putting together a working group to "look at the best available statistical, scientific, and medical evidence about sex differences in sports performance and any associated male sex-based advantage" and use that information to set eligibility rules for transgender athletes.
The working group was made up of a group of athletes, which FINA says included transgender athletes and coaches, a group of scientists and doctors, and a group of lawyers and people who care about human rights.
Monday, the IOC told CNN that the International Federations (IFs) are in charge of running the sports at the Olympic Games.
It kept going: "In terms of eligibility requirements for separate competitions for men and women, the Framework gives IFs suggestions but is not a requirement. The 2015 Consensus Statement on the eligibility of trans athletes and athletes with different sexes was also not binding for IFs.
"The IOC thinks that sports bodies are in a good position to define the factors that lead to performance advantage in their own sport. They are also in a good position to figure out the point at which an advantage becomes disproportionate, come up with relevant criteria, and come up with ways to counteract a disproportionate advantage if it is found to be present." "
When Lia Thomas, a swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania, switched from the men's team to the women's team in 2020, it brought the debate about transgender women in swimming to the forefront.
When she changed her gender in 2019, the NCAA said that transgender athletes had to go through a year of hormone replacement therapy before they could compete.
In February, 16 members of the University of Pennsylvania swim team sent a letter to the university and the Ivy League asking them not to challenge the NCAA's new rules for transgender athletes, which would make it impossible for Thomas and other transgender athletes to compete. In the letter, they said Thomas had a "unfair advantage" and that they supported her transition out of the pool but not necessarily in it.
Even though there was backlash, Penn Athletics and the Ivy League kept supporting the transgender swimmer, and more than 300 current and former swimmers signed an open letter supporting her right to compete.
Thomas became the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I title when she won the women's 500-yard freestyle event in March. She was swimming for the women's team.