FINA approves ‘gender inclusion policy’ for transgender swimmers

FINA approves ‘gender inclusion policy’ for transgender swimmers

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FINA, the international swimming governing body, has approved new policies for transgender swimmers which will come into effect on Monday.

The “gender inclusion policy” will only allow swimmers who transitioned before the age of 12 to compete in women’s events. FINA members voted 71.5% in favor of the new policies.

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Lia Thomas looks on after winning the Women's 500 Meter Freestyle during the 2022 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championship at the McAuley Aquatic Center on the campus of Georgia Institute of Technology on March 17, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Lia Thomas looks on after winning the Women’s 500 Meter Freestyle during the 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championship at the McAuley Aquatic Center on the campus of Georgia Institute of Technology on March 17, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia.
(Mike Comer/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

There was also a proposal for a new “open competition policy”. The organization said it was setting up “a new task force that will spend the next six months looking at the most effective ways to implement this new category.”

In the 24-page policy released on Sunday, FINA explained how transgender men and women will be allowed to compete under the new rules.

FINA has stated that transgender men are eligible to compete in FINA competitions and set world records in the men’s category unless:

“For the disciplines of Water Polo and High-Level Diving, the athlete must provide FINA with a risk management form signed and dated by the athlete or, if the athlete is a minor, by his legal representative” or “All athletes undergoing treatment involving testosterone or other anabolic substances as part of female-to-male gender affirming hormone therapy are required to obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for such treatment in accordance with FINA doping control rules.”

Transgender women and athletes whose legal sex and/or gender identity is female may compete in FINA-sanctioned events if “they can establish to the comfort of FINA that they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.”

Lia Thomas watches from the podium after finishing fifth in the Women's 200 Yard Freestyle during the NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championship at the McAuley Aquatic Center on the campus of Georgia Institute of Technology on March 18, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Lia Thomas watches from the podium after finishing fifth in the Women’s 200 Yard Freestyle during the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championship at the McAuley Aquatic Center on the campus of Georgia Institute of Technology on March 18, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia.
(Mike Comer/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

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The athlete must produce evidence that he has “complete androgen insensitivity and therefore cannot experience male puberty” or “He is androgen sensitive but male puberty has been suppressed from Tanner stage 2 or earlier. age 12, whichever is later, and has since continuously maintained their serum (or plasma) testosterone levels below 2.5 nmol/L” or “An involuntary deviation from requirement less than 2.5 nmol/L may result in retrospective disqualification of results and/or a prospective period of ineligibility or “Intentional deviation from the requirement a requirement less than 2.5 nmol/L may result in disqualification retrospective results and a prospective period of Ineligibility equal to or proportional to the length of the periods imposed under FINA RDC for intentional anti-doping rule violations involving anabolic steroids.”

The transgender athlete who does not meet the eligibility criteria can participate in “any open event” that the organization may develop in the future.

“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 the women’s category at FINA competitions,” said FINA President Husain. Al-Musallam, in a statement.

FINA's new policies go into effect on Monday.

FINA’s new policies go into effect on Monday.
(Stock)

“FINA will always welcome every athlete. Creating an open category will mean that everyone will have the opportunity to compete at an elite level. This has never been done before, so FINA will have to lead the way. I want all athletes feel included in the ability to develop ideas during this process.”

Lia Thomas’ sudden appearance in the pool during the NCAA swim season shone a spotlight on the new rules. Thomas became the first transgender swimmer to win NCAA and Ivy League championships in recent months. She swam for the University of Pennsylvania.

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Thomas told Sports Illustrated last month that she would seek a spot on the national swimming team ahead of the 2024 Olympics.

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