After many discussions, controversies, and heated debates, Fina has finally announced a new policy regarding transgender athletes and has barred them from participating in the women's elite races. Additionally, Fina also aims to establish an 'open' category at competitions for swimmers whose gender identity is different than their birth sex.
Fina Bans Transgender Swimmers From Competing In Women's Elite Events
Fina, swimming's world governing body, has opted to vote against transgender athletes from competing in women's elite races making it the condition if they have gone through any part of the process of male puberty.
This recent policy to makes it a condition for transgender competitors to complete their transition by the age of 12 so that they can be a part of women's competitions.
Additionally, Fina has announced that they aim to establish an 'open' category at competitions for swimmers whose gender identity is different than their birth sex.
This new policy has passed with 71% votes from over 152 Fina members and is described as "only a first step towards full inclusion" for transgender athletes.
This remarkable decision comes during an extraordinary general congress at the ongoing World Championships in Budapest.
Fina members also heard a report from a transgender task force that made up the leading figures from the world of medicine, law and sport.
"Fina's approach in drafting this policy was comprehensive, science-based and inclusive, and, importantly, Fina's approach emphasized competitive fairness," said Brent Nowicki, the governing body's executive director.
Fina's decision comes only a few days after a decision made by UCI, cycling's governing body, to double the period of time before a rider transitioning from male to female can compete in women's races.
The issue of the swimming team has been long under discussion by the experiences of American Lia Thomas.
Back in March, Thomas became the first transgender swimmer to win the highest US national college title with a victory in the women's 500-yard freestyle.
Thomas swam for the Pennsylvanian men's team for three seasons before starting hormone replacement therapy in spring 2019.
She has since broken records for her university swimming team.
More than 300 colleges, Team USA, and Olympic swimmers then signed an open letter supporting Thomas and other transgender and non-binary swimmers, however, issues were raised by other athletes and organizations that have raised concerns about trans inclusion.
Many of Thomas's teammates and their parents also wrote anonymous letters to support the swimmer and her right to transition, however, raised the point that this would be unfair for her to compete in women's teams.
Following the protests, USA Swimming updated its policy for elite swimmers in February to allow transgender athletes to swim in elite events, alongside criteria that aim to reduce any unfair advantage, including testosterone tests for 36 months before competitions.
In fact, only last year weightlifter Laurel Hubbard from New Zealand was the first transgender athlete to compete at an Olympics in a different sex category to that in which they were born.
This discussion over the inclusion of transgender women in women's sports has received divided opinions from both inside and outside the sporting sphere.
The majority state that transgenders should not be competing in women's sports because of the obvious advantages that they retain, however, others argue that the sports should be more inclusive.
World Athletics president Lord Coe has said the "integrity" and "future" of women's sport would be "very fragile" if sporting organizations get regulations for transgender athletes wrong.
The conversation if women transgender should be competing in women's sports involves the complicated balance of inclusion, sporting fairness and safety - essentially, whether trans women can compete in female categories without giving them an unfair advantage or presenting a threat of injury to competitors.
Over time, trans women also have had to adhere to a number of rules to compete in specific sports, including in many cases lowering their testosterone levels to a certain amount, for a set period of time, before competing.
However, this does not rule out the fact that there have been concerns despite these rules and regulations followed by transgender athletes and one cannot ignore the fact that transgender athletes do retain an advantage from going through male puberty that is not addressed by lowering testosterone.