Leah Thomas‘ Participation in women’s swimming has reached a tipping point – because the sport’s world governing body has stepped in…and they have ruled against her.
FINA — the French for the International Swimming Federation — made a decision this weekend on transgender athletes (especially trans women) competing in women’s swimming…they say it’s impossible, but with some caveats.
the organization’s new policy Said that male and female swimmers transitioning before age 12 or before puberty Tanner Stage 2, whichever is later, can participate in the women’s event. The reason…they say there’s no question that trans female athletes who have gone through male puberty have an unfair physical advantage over cisgender women.
They came to this conclusion based on multiple studies, reports and presentations by 3 expert groups who provided their findings to FINA – made up of members from 152 national federations – who then Vote…a 71% majority in favor of this decision.
In this case, a representative for the FINA president told The Associated Press, “It’s not that people are encouraged to transition before age 12. That’s what scientists say, if you transition after you start puberty, you have an advantage, this is not fair.”
Spox added: “They’re not saying that everyone should transition by 11, which is ridiculous. In most countries, you can’t transition at that age, and hopefully you’re not encouraged to do so. Basically, what they do is It’s saying it’s not feasible for someone who has transitioned to no advantage.” They clarified that there are currently no trans women competing in elite-level swimming…presumably referring to international competitions.
One of the things FINA is considering to include transgender swimmers in the… “open competition” category. It’s not well defined at this point, but they’re sending a team to investigate it further.
It’s unclear whether FINA’s new rules will be adopted by bodies like the NCAA, which currently allows people like Lia to compete in college swimming. This year she made history by winning the women’s 500-meter freestyle national championship.
Anyway, some people are welcoming the news… including Caitlin Jennershe’s now been advocating for that change — saying trans female athletes have an undeniable physical advantage in their cisgender games, just like many others.
She wrote, “It worked! I got a lot of heat – but fairness is fairness! You shouldn’t be able to take a medal from a female if you go through male puberty. Period.”
Leah herself does not appear to have commented publicly.