The inclusion of women’s trances in the women’s category is one of the biggest debates in the world of sports today. The decision to swim comes after a similar change announced by cycling.
The International Swimming Federation (IFAD) announced on Sunday (19/6) the decision to ban the participation of transgender athletes in elite competitions in the women’s category if they have passed any stage of male puberty.
Under the new rules, athletes must change their sex at the age of 12 to participate in women’s competitions.
It was defined at the Extraordinary General Congress of Fine Change, in Budapest, where the World Swimming Championships are held. With 71% of the 152 members of the federation approved, the organization said it was “just a step towards full integration” of transgender athletes.
At the same time, the federation announced that it will create an open category for trans athletes.
Earlier, the members of Fina discussed the conclusions of a report by a working group of leading figures in the world of medicine, law and sport.
“Fine’s vision was broad to work on this policy, based on science and inclusion. And most importantly, emphasizing competitive equity,” said Brent Nowicki, the organisation’s executive director.
Federation President Husain Al-Musallam said the organization was trying to “preserve the rights of our athletes to compete” but also “protect the equity of competitiveness”.
“Finas will always welcome all athletes. Creating an open category means that everyone will have the opportunity to compete at the elite level. Since this has not yet been done, the federation will have to pave the way. I want athletes to feel included and able to develop their ideas in this process.” .
Former swimmer Sharron Davies, who opposes the participation of transgender athletes in elite women’s swimming, said she was “proud” of the sport and the federation.
In a statement on Twitter, the Briton thanked Fina for “being science-based, talking to athletes and coaches, and advocating for a fair sport for women.” “Swimming will always be welcome for everyone, no matter how you identify, but fairness is the foundation of the sport.”
Athlete Ally, an LGBT rights group, organized a letter of support for American swimmer Lia Thomas in February, saying the new policy was “discriminatory, harmful, unscientific and inconsistent with IOC principles.” [Comitê Olímpico Internacional] 2021 “.
“If we really want to support women’s sport, we need to include all women,” the team said.
A similar decision in cycling
The move follows a similar decision announced by the cycling organization Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) on Thursday (16/6). Sports have also limited the space for trans athletes to compete, doubling the amount of time a trans athlete can compete after completing their gender transition.
The previous rule stated that the athlete’s testosterone level should be stable at a level below 5 nanomoles per liter for 12 months before competition. With the change, the allowable testosterone level dropped to 2.5 nmol / L and the time interval doubled to 24 months.
The debate over the participation of trans-athletes in water sports competitions was highlighted by the case of the American Lia Thomas.
In March, Thomas became the first transgender swimmer to win a U.S. college league title, winning the women’s 500m freestyle.
Thomas swam in the Pennsylvania men’s team for three seasons in 2019 before starting hormone replacement therapy.
He has since broken records with the college swimming team.
More than 300 collegiate athletes, the U.S. Team and the Olympic swimmers signed an open letter in support of Thomas and all transgender and non-binary swimmers, but other athletes and organizations have expressed concern about the issue.
Some of Thomas ’teammates and her parents wrote anonymous letters in support of the right to transition, but added that they thought it was unfair to compete as a woman.
USA Swimming, the U.S. swimming body, updated its policy for elite swimmers in February to establish criteria for allowing trans-athletes to compete and reduce any unfair advantage, including testing for testosterone levels within 36 months of competition.
Last year, New Zealand powerlifter Laurel Hubbard was the first athlete to compete in the Olympics as an open transgender, in a different genre where she was born.
What do experts say?
For physicist and human performance expert Michael Joyner, “Testosterone changes the physiological determinants of human performance in male adolescence and explains gender differences in human performance, which are clearly seen at age 12.”
“Even if testosterone is removed, its performance-enhancing effects will be maintained.”
According to activist, researcher and lawyer Adrian Jjuu, the change announced by Fina “emphasizes that there are no athletes outside the federation championships or setting records based on their legal gender, gender identity or gender expression.”
So “[a categoria aberta proposta] it should not become a category that adds to the level of discrimination and marginalization against these groups. I see this policy as a first step towards inclusion and full support for participation in water sports, and there is much more to be done. “
Sandra Hunter, an exercise physiologist who specializes in gender and age differences in athletic performance, says, “From the age of 14 onwards, there is a significant difference between boys and girls. This is due to the benefits of testosterone and physiological adaptations.
“Some of these physical benefits are originally structural, such as height, limb length, heart size, lung size, and will also be maintained with the removal or reduction of testosterone that occurs in the transition from male to female.”
Former Olympic and world swimming champion Summer Sanders advocates for the existence of both women’s and men’s categories, and in parallel, the existence of trans women’s and men’s trans categories.
“Direct competition is the main strength of our community; this approach maintains the integrity of the current sports process, in which millions of girls and women participate each year.”
One of the biggest discussions of the sport
Discussions about the inclusion of trans women in women’s sports share opinions both inside and outside the sports world.
Many say that trans women do not have the physical advantage of being able to compete in the female category; others say the sport should be more inclusive.
Lord Coe, President of World Athletics, said the “integrity” and “future” of women’s sport would become “very fragile” if sports organizations made mistakes in the design of their respective rules for athletes.
The core of the debate over the presence of trans women in women’s competitions involves a complex balance between inclusion, sporting equity and security; basically whether trans women can compete in the female category without having an unfair advantage or threatening injury to competitors. .
Women in transs must follow certain rules to compete in specific sports, including, in many cases, reducing their testosterone levels to a certain amount of time before competing.
There is concern, however, that as the swimming decision points out, female athletes will continue to have a physical advantage as they progress into male adolescence, even if they later lower their testosterone levels.
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– This text was originally published in https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/geral-61860367