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University of Pennsylvania Transgender Swimmer Lia Thomas Banned From Elite Competition


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FINA, world swimming’s governing body, has effectively banned transgender women from competing in women’s events.

The governing body voted to stop transgender athletes from competing in women’s elite races if they have gone through any part of the process of male puberty.

The new policy, which was passed with 71% of the vote from 152 FINA members, requires transgender competitors to have completed their transition by the age of 12 in order to be able to compete in women’s competitions.

“This is not saying that people are encouraged to transition by the age of 12. It’s what the scientists are saying, that if you transition after the start of puberty, you have an advantage, which is unfair,” James Pearce, who is the spokesperson for FINA president Husain Al-Musallam, told The Associated Press.

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“They’re not saying everyone should transition by age 11, that’s ridiculous. You can’t transition by that age in most countries and hopefully you wouldn’t be encouraged to. Basically, what they’re saying is that it is not feasible for people who have transitioned to compete without having an advantage.”

FINA’s vote would exclude University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas from competing against women in elite competitions.

From the New York Post:

Pearce confirmed there are currently no transgender women competing in elite levels of swimming.

However, the ruling would seemingly exclude University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas from elite competition.

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health just lowered its recommended minimum age for starting gender transition hormone treatment to 14 and some surgeries to 15 or 17.

FINA’s new 24-page policy also proposed a new “open competition” category. 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.”

Pearce told the AP that the open competition would most likely mean more events, but those details still need to be worked out.

“No one quite knows how this is going to work. And we need to include a lot of different people, including transgender athletes, to work out how it would work,” he said. “So there are no details of how that would work. The open category is something that will start being discussed tomorrow.”

The members voted 71.5% in favor at the organization’s extraordinary general congress after hearing presentations from three specialist groups — an athlete group, a science and medicine group and a legal and human rights group — that had been working together to form the policy following recommendations given by the International Olympic Committee last November.



 

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