FINA approves “gender inclusion policy” for transgender swimmers

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FINA, the governing body for international swimming, approved new guidelines for transgender swimmers that enter into force on Monday.

The “Gender Inclusion Guidelines” will only allow swimmers who passed before the age of 12 to compete in women’s events. FINA members voted 71.5% in favor of the new guidelines.

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

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

There were also proposals for a new “open competition policy”. The organization said it was setting up “a new working group that will spend the next six months looking at the most effective ways to set up this new category.”

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

FINA said that transgender men are qualified to compete in FINA competitions and set world records in the men’s category unless:

“For the water polo and scuba diving disciplines, the athlete must provide FINA with a risk form signed and dated by the athlete or, if the athlete is a minor, by their legal representative” or “All athletes undergoing treatment involving testosterone or other anabolic substances as part of female-to “Male sex-confirming hormone therapy is required to obtain a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for that treatment in accordance with FINA’s doping control rules.”

Transgender women and athletes whose legal gender and / or gender identity are women can compete in FINA-sanctioned events if “they can determine to FINA’s comfortable satisfaction that they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before the age of 12, as it is later. “

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

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

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The athlete must provide evidence that they have “complete androgen insensitivity and therefore could not experience male puberty” or “They are androgen sensitive, but had male puberty suppressed from Tanner Stage 2 or before 12 years, whichever is later, and they have since continuously maintained their serum (or plasma) testosterone levels below 2.5 nmol / L “or” An unintentional deviation from the requirement below 2.5 nmol / L may result in retrospective disqualification of results and / or a prospective period of failure eligibility or “An intentional deviation from below 2.5 nmol / L requirements may result in retroactive disqualification of results and a prospective exclusion period equal to or equivalent to periods imposed under the FINA DRC for intentional violations of the anti-doping rule involving anabolic steroids.”

Transgender athletes who do not meet the qualification standards may compete in “any open events” the organization may develop in the future.

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

FINA's new guidelines come into force on Monday.

FINA’s new guidelines come into force on Monday.
(iStock)

“FINA will always welcome any athlete. The creation of an open category will mean that everyone has the opportunity to compete at the elite level. This has not been done before, so FINA must take the lead. I want all athletes to feel included in being able to develop ideas during this process. “

Lia Thomas’ sudden emergence in the pool during the NCAA swimming season put the spotlight on the new rules. Thomas became the first transgender swimmer to win the 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 apply for a place on the national swimming team ahead of the 2024 Olympics.