FINA, the body that governs swimming competitions worldwide, has just enacted a new policy for transgender swimmers.
According to Fox News, the new policy places a key restriction on biological males who want to compete in women’s swimming events.
Under this new restriction, if a biological male wants to compete in a women’s event, then that individual would have to have transitioned to female before the age of 12.
Transgender women and athletes whose legal gender and/or gender identity is female can compete in FINA-sanctioned events if “they can establish to FINA’s comfortable satisfaction that they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.”
FINA goes on to provide specifics about how these athletes can establish this.
Those transgender athletes who fail to meet the above requirements are not outright barred from competition, however. They may still be able to compete in “open events.”
To be clear, FINA does not yet have “open events.” But, the group is said to be working on setting up this new category.
“FINA will begin work following the final promulgation of this Policy to determine the feasibility of establishing an open category in Aquatics sport disciplines, in which an athlete who meets the eligibility criteria for that event would be able to compete without regard to their sex, their legal gender, or their gender identity,” FINA states.
FINA says that it will take the next six months to consider if and how it can set up this new category. So, there is still no guarantee that such a category will become a reality.
There has been much controversy surrounding women’s swimming, particularly as a result of Lia Thomas, the University of Pennsylvania swimmer. Thomas, a biological male and transgender female, has been dominating the biologically female competition, which has led to complaints about a lack of fairness.
It is clear that FINA’s rule change, which will go into effect on Monday, is a response to this controversy.
“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 president Husain Al-Musallam said in a statement.