The International Swimming Federation restricts the participation of transsexuals in elite women's competitions

Transgender rights have become an important topic of discussion as sport seeks to promote inclusion, while ensuring that there are no unfair benefits.

The decision, the strictest taken by an Olympic sports body, was taken during the extraordinary general congress of FINA, after the members listened to a report of a working group for transsexuals consisting of prominent medical, legal and sports personalities. Reuters.

The new eligibility policy for FINA competitions provides that transgender athletes who have passed from male to female are eligible to compete only if “they can establish, to the comfortable satisfaction of FINA, that they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond the Tanner stage. 2 (puberty) or before the age of 12, whichever is later “.

The policy was adopted by a majority of about 71% after being voted on by members of the 152 national voting federations that gathered for the Puskas Arena congress.

“We need to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also need to protect the fairness of competition at our events, especially in the women’s category at FINA competitions,” said FINA President Husain Al-Musallam.

“FINA will always greet every athlete. Creating an open category will mean that everyone has the opportunity to compete at an elite level. This has not been done before, so FINA will have to pave the way. I want all athletes to feel included in being able to develop ideas during this process. ”

The issue of transgender inclusion in sports is provoking controversy and divisions of opinion, especially in the United States, where it has become a weapon in the so-called “cultural war” between conservatives and progressives.

FINA’s new policy also opens up eligibility for those who have “complete androgenic insensitivity and therefore have not been able to experience male puberty.”

Swimmers who have had “suppressed male puberty from Tanner 2 stage onwards or before the age of 12, whichever is later, and who have since kept their serum (or plasma) testosterone levels below 2.5 nmol / L. “can also compete in women’s races.

Transgender athletes (female to male or male transgender) are fully eligible to compete in men’s swimming competitions.

Proponents of transgender inclusion argue that not enough studies have been done on the impact of the transition on physical performance, and that in any case, elite athletes often have aberrant physical characteristics.

The debate intensified after University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas became the first NCAA transgender champion in Division I history to win the women’s 500-meter freestyle earlier this year.

This came after New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first transgender athlete to compete in the Tokyo Olympics last year.

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