Budapest, Hungary (AP) – The World Swimming Governing Body effectively banned transgender athletes from participating in women’s events on Sunday.
At the organization’s extraordinary general congress, FINA members voted 71.5% in favor of its new “gender policy”, which only allows swimmers over 12 years of age to compete in women’s events.
“This is not to say that people will be encouraged to transition until they are 12 years old. If you transition after the onset of puberty, you will benefit, scientists say, which is unfair,” James Pierce, a spokesman for FINA President Hussein al-Musallam, told the Associated Press.
“They are not saying that everyone should change under 11, it’s ridiculous. In most countries you can not change to that age and hope that you are not encouraged. Basically, what they are saying is that transgender people cannot compete without purpose.
FINA’s new 24-page policy also includes proposals for a new “open competition” category. FINA said it was setting up a “new working group that will spend the next six months looking for the most effective ways to set up this new category.”
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Pierce told the AP that open competition means more events will take place, but those details have yet to be worked out.
“Nobody knows how it works. And we need to include a lot of different people, including transgender athletes, to find out how it works. So there are no details on how it works. The open category will be a topic of discussion from tomorrow,” Pierce said.
Members voted after hearing performances from three specialist groups – the Athlete Group, the Science and Medicine Group and the Legal and Human Rights Group – working together to formulate a policy following recommendations made by the International Olympic Committee last November..
The IOC called for a shift in focus from individual testosterone levels and for evidence to prove that a performance benefit exists.
“The FINA noted that some individuals and groups may find the use of medical and scientific terminology related to sex and sex-linked features (but) certainly the use of sensitive vocabulary to be specific about the sex characteristics that justify particular competition. Categories.”
In March, Leah Thomas made history in the United States as the first transgender woman to win the NCAA Swimming Championship. She won the 500-yard freestyle.
Other sports are also considering their rules.
On Thursday, the Cycling Governing Body updated its eligibility rules for transgender athletes with stricter limits, making riders have to wait longer before competing.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) has extended the transition period on low testosterone to two years and lowered the maximum approved testosterone level.
The previous transition period was 12 months, but recent scientific studies at UCI show that “expected adaptations in muscle mass and muscle strength / strength” in male-to-female athletes take at least two years.
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