FINA Ban Spells a Storm For Trans-athletes

Swimming threw the first big darts at transgender athletes. This will surely pave the way for other areas to impose similar bans prior to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Hopefully this puts an end to a deep and intelligent debate about how to open the sport to everyone, especially those already suffering from great discrimination, alienation and political aggression, backed by science, nuances and empathy. Never hit.


In particular, a ruling against Lia Thomas, the first transgender woman to win the National Collegiate Championships in NCAA, FINA and the Swimming Governing Body, effectively bans athletes like Thomas from participating in women’s events. I did.

Those who have not started the male-to-female transition before their 12th birthday or the onset of puberty, whichever is later, will not be able to compete with cisgender women during their careers.

This almost ends Thomas’ desire to compete in the Olympics, not to mention transgender women in other sports who may face similar restrictions in the not too distant future.

FINA’s ruling was rigorous, but it also opened up space for inclusion by calling for the establishment of a so-called “open” category for transgender athletes.

However, the organization showed little sign as to whether their competition was successful or if there were enough competitors to make them viable.

“The’open’category is incredibly different and impractical,” said Schuyler Bailer, who became the first openly transgender NCAA Division I swimmer as a member of the Harvard Men’s Team.

“Imagine if Leah created an Olympic team. Currently she is the only transgender woman known to compete in women’s elite swimming. Who will you play against?

The new guidelines have been welcomed as a major step by many female sports advocates, including 1984 Olympic Swimming Champion Nancy Hogshead Macar.

“We are pleased that our sports leadership has risen for women’s justice,” Hogshead McCarl said on the phone Monday. “We have endeavored to protect the women-only girl and women category while at the same time restructuring the sport in a variety of ways, including transgender people, without penalizing the women category.”

Most World Championship athletes in Budapest refused to comment on this issue, but Australia’s Moesha Johnson expressed her support for the ban on transgender women.

Hogshead-Makar studies that competing with adolescent transgender swimmers as men puts cisgender women at a greater disadvantage than competing with those who use performance-enhancing substances. One of those who believe is clearly showing.

“Can this be fair from a medical or scientific point of view? The answer is no,” Hogshead McCarl argued. “So if you say it’s not fair, it’s game over.”

Of course, the game isn’t over yet.

When excluding transgender women from women’s events, it is imperative that sports organizations find ways to compete without taking back seats.

FINA claims to be working on this goal, but it’s hard to understand how it works.

Are transgender swimmers restricted to outer lanes that are not commonly used for major events? Should they receive separate medals and have their own records? What about trans-gender men, who have been largely ignored in this discussion? Do you agree with the Olympics?

Hogshead-Makar acknowledged that discussions on the sector for transgender athletes are ongoing work.

Just three weeks ago, after graduating from Penn, Thomas appeared in “Good Morning America” ​​to discuss his future. He talked about his plans to study law, but he also expressed his desire to continue to compete.

His goal was to take part in the qualifying for 2024, which will determine which team will fight in Paris.

“That was my goal and it was to take part in the Olympic trials for a long time,” said Thomas. “I hope it happens.”

It’s impossible anymore. It’s the end of Thomas’ Olympic dream, but hopefully it’s the beginning of another conversation that makes everyone feel like they’re in.


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