Leah Thomas ineligible to swim with women under international policy change

The International Swimming Authority announced Sunday that male swimmers born after puberty will be banned from competing in women’s competitions, dashing transgender athlete Leah Thomas’ hopes of competing with women at the Olympics.

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) said that after reviewing the conclusions of a task force formed in November, 71.5% of federation members voted to approve a revised “gender inclusion policy” to review the science related to transgender swimmers and human rights issues.

FINA president Hussein Musallam said in a statement: “We must protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we must also protect the fairness of competition in our events, especially in FINA competitions. women’s team.”

24 pages policyEffective Monday, male and female swimmers are allowed to compete in women’s competition “if they can determine that they have not experienced Tanner Stage 2 or any part of male puberty prior to age 12, whichever is later.”

Additionally, in women’s competition, swimmers with testosterone levels in excess of 2.5 nanomoles per liter in serum tests may be subject to penalties, including disqualification and disqualification for a period of time, depending on whether the violation was intentional or unintentional .

FINA also said that male and female swimmers are welcome to continue to compete with the men, while male and female swimmers are allowed to compete in the women’s division as long as they do not take male hormones.


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International Swimming also said it would set up a working group aimed at creating an “open competition” category for athletes who “do not meet the applicable standards for men’s or women’s”.

James Pearce, a spokesman for Mr Al-Musallam, said the policy was not designed to incentivise athletes to switch genders before puberty.

“It’s not that people are encouraged to transition before age 12. That’s what scientists say, if you transition after puberty starts, you have an advantage, and it’s unfair,” Mr Pierce told reporters.

He also said that in women’s swimming at the elite level, no male-born swimmers are considered female.

Attention to transgender athletes soared in March when Ms. Thomas became the first biological male to win the NCAA Division I women’s championship. Ms. Thomas complied with NCAA rules requiring at least one year of testosterone suppression to compete as a woman.

Ms Thomas, who spent three years in the men’s team swimming without significant results before joining the women’s team, has expressed interest in participating in the Olympic trials.

British biologist Emma Hilton, a critic of allowing biological men in women’s sports, praised the policy change, tweeting: “FINA [has] come over. “

“Men who have not gone through any stage of male puberty are eligible for the female category,” she said.

Former British Olympic swimmer Sharon Davies tweeted: “I can’t tell you how proud I am of doing science for my sport @fina & @fina_president, asking athletes/coaches and supporting women’s fairness.”

“No matter how you identify with it, everyone is always welcome in swimming, but fairness is the cornerstone of the sport,” she said.

Women’s Fair Play also cheered the decision, saying “International Swimming and Rugby now reserves women’s teams only for women. We now need to see the UK governing body do the same.”

Fighting back is the Human Rights Movement, the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the United States, condemn The policy change is “discriminatory” and a “blatant attack on trans athletes.”

The HRC noted that several red states have moved to ban minors from transgender treatment, including hormones and puberty blockers.

“It requires trans swimmers to complete their transition by the age of 12 — an unrealistic and practically impossible requirement, especially as some states, including Alabama and Arkansas, are trying to ban When transgender youth is exposed to an age-appropriate, medically necessary gender — identify care that will allow them to comply with this policy,” the Human Rights Commission said.

Transgender activist Charlotte Kramer called the policy change “horrific.”

“FINA chose to ignore the science and succumb to political pressure from vicious anti-transgender propaganda,” Ms Cramer wrote on Twitter. “No young trans woman will meet that standard without access to proper healthcare, which itself is banned in many places. Ridiculous.”

Thomas persist in Male-born swimmers did not threaten women’s sport last month, in part because “a trans woman is a woman.”

“Trans women participating in women’s sports do not threaten the entire women’s sport,” Thomas told ESPN. “Trans women are a tiny minority of all athletes. NCAA rules for trans women in women’s sports have been in place for over 10 years. And we haven’t seen any mass dominance of trans women.”



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