FINA votes to restrict trans women from participating in elite swimming

Swimming’s governing body FINA has voted to restrict transgender women from participating in the sport at the elite level.

The organisation says it will create a working group to establish an ‘open’ event for some categories as part of its new policy.

The new policy was voted in during an extraordinary general meeting of the organsation that was held alongside the world championships which are taking place in Bucharest. Members heard from a taskforce comprising leading medical, legal, human rights and sports figures.

The new rules were voted in with 71.5% of delegates voting in favour of the revised guidelines.

Transgender women will still be able to compete in sport at the elite level as long as they have completed suppressed the process of male puberty by the age of 12, or Tanner Stage Two. The Tanner scale is a measure of medical scale of physical development.

FINA President Husain Al-Musallam said the policy which comes into effect from today was focused on both fairness and inclusion.

“We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions.”

“FINA will always welcome every athlete. The creation of an open category will mean that everybody has the opportunity to compete at an elite level. This has not been done before, so FINA will need to lead the way. I want all athletes to feel included in being able to develop ideas during this process. ” Al-Musallam said.

The organisation published their new guidelines in full to their website.

Australian swimmer Emily Seebohm, who has voiced her concerns about the participation of transgender women in the sport creating an unfair playing field, spoke to The Australian ahead of the new rules being revealed. Seebohm said she was glad her sport was tackling the issue.

“It is good there is finally going to be a decision and we can actually move our sport on to bigger and better things of being an inclusive sport and having everyone involved and we will have a better understanding of how that works.” Seebohn said.

The decision comes just days after cycling’s governing body also announced changes to their rules regarding the participation of transgender women. While swimming is stopping all participation by transgender women at the elite level, cycling has allowed transgender women to continue, but now requires a much lower level of testosterone, and a longer waiting period.

Graeme Watson

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