World swimming’s governing body, FINA, has decided to prohibit some men who identify as female from participating in women’s competitions. According to The Associated Press, although the revised “gender inclusion policy” announced bans some men and boys from female-only competitions, it still allows male swimmers who underwent a so-called gender transition before age 12 to compete against female athletes. FINA also put forward the possibility of a co-ed “open competition.” “They’re not saying everyone should transition by age 11, that’s ridiculous. You can’t transition by that age in most countries and hopefully, you wouldn’t be encouraged to. The new policy was adopted following a vote where 71.5% supported the measure after it was proposed to the members of 152 national federations that have voting rights and assembled for the FINA Extraordinary Congress in Budapest, Hungary.
The move comes amid growing consternation among women’s rights campaigners who have argued that males have a competitive edge over females in sports because of the effects of puberty on their bodies. One example is swimmer Lia Thomas, a man, formerly known as Will, who identifies as trans and broke several women’s records and won the 500-yard freestyle race at the NCAA championship finals at Georgia Tech in March. Under the new FINA policy, Thomas would likely not be permitted to compete against women athletes. In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” in May, Thomas maintained that he doesn’t possess an advantage over women athletes, arguing that “trans women are not a threat to women’s sports.” Praising the move, Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce, tweeted: “What’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period.”
Similarly, Sharron Davies, an Olympic swimmer from England who won a silver medal in the 1980 Games, tweeted that she was proud of her sport “for doing the science, asking the athletes/coaches and standing up for fair sport for females.” “Swimming will always welcome everyone no matter how you identify but fairness is the cornerstone of sport,” she said.Among those voicing pessimism about the policy change was The Daily Wire commentator Matt Walsh, whose documentary “What is a Woman?” examines the dimensions of gender ideology, including how it impacts women’s sports. “The rule should simply be that males don’t compete against females. Period. No caveats. Speaking to the proposed “open” category, Pearce indicated that the details are still being worked out and under discussion.
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