As the world of competitive sports grapples with where transgender athletes fit in, the International Swimming Federation (FINA, Fédération Internationale de Natation) has issued new guidelines for transgender swimmers competing in the sport.
Trans women who have experienced any part of puberty will not be eligible to compete in elite women’s swimming on the international stage.
The new policy was heralded by trans celebrity Caitlyn Jenner.
“It worked!” tweeted Jenner, 72, the Olympic gold-winning decathlete who championed the exclusion of trans athletes like herself competing in women’s events.
It worked! I took a lot of heat – but what’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period. https://t.co/qqZq7gnt6g
— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) June 19, 2022
The governing body of international swimming events convened three working groups composed of athletes, science and medical professionals, and legal and human rights experts to study the issue of trans inclusion in elite swimming.
“After analyzing the conclusions of these groups, FINA developed a new policy that will apply at all FINA events,” the group announced. “The policy will also be followed for world record ratification, wherever the competition took place.”
The new guidelines were adopted with 71.5% of voting members in support.
“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,” said FINA President Husain Al-Musallam.
In order to compete in the female category, qualifying transgender athletes would have to start taking puberty blockers before their puberty started, or around age 13.
Any athlete assigned male at birth who does not experience puberty will have to show their testosterone level has consistently been under 2.5 nanomoles per liter. Trans women on hormone replacement therapy often have a T-level below 1.
As well, FINA announced the creation of a new “open” category to include any athlete regardless of sex or gender.
“The creation of an open category will mean that everybody has the opportunity to compete at an elite level,” said Al-Musallam. “This has not been done before, so FINA will need to lead the way.”
FINA’s policy means a generation of trans athletes who don’t meet the new criteria will be barred from competition, including swimmer Lia Thomas, the former Penn swimmer and national champion who was hoping for a spot on the women’s swim team at the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics.
Banning swimmers who are trans is discrimination. None of the research on this has been done on elite athletes. FINA have made this decision bc of the misogynistic hate campaign directed at Lia Thomas by the anti-trans lobby. Her career has been ruined by this decision.
— Jackie Turner 🏳️⚧️ (@JackieMaeTurner) June 19, 2022
From here forward, I shall refer to FINA's new ban on transgender women participating in the sport they sanction as the "Lia Thomas Rule"
This is was direct reaction to her intent to pursue elite competition and this was their way of saying, "Trans need not apply"
— Karleigh Chardonnay Webb (@ChardonnayM) June 19, 2022
Thomas is a regular target of Jenner’s.
The woke world we are living in today is what has allowed for Lia Thomas to compete and take away medals from biological women.
— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) June 1, 2022
The former “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” star says she “took a lot of heat” about banning trans athletes from competition, “but what’s fair is fair!”
“If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period,” tweeted Jenner.
Jenner regularly competes in women’s golf tournaments despite transitioning late in life.