FINA bars transgenders athletes in women's competitions: Will other sporting bodies follow suit?

Updated: Jun 21, 2022, 09:23 PM(IST)

The debate over gender identity in sports seems to have heated up yet again after swimming's international governing body FINA announced a ban on the participation of transgender athletes in women's competitions. The controversial ruling has left experts and athletes divided with many criticising the swimming governing body over the decision. However, FINA's decision can prompt several other sporting bodies to follow in their footsteps with the likes of FIFA and World Athletics already planning to review their transgender policies.

Should transgender women be allowed to compete in female category?

Over the years, transgender women competing in women's category has been a sensitive issue in sports and has been a matter of intense debate. Several sporting bodies allow transgender athletes to compete in women's category as per their current rules.


FINA bans transgenders in women’s category

FINA voted against allowing transgender athletes to take part in elite competitions in women's category. 196 of the 274 members in the board casted their votes in the favour of barring transgender athletes from competing in female category.


FINA plans to introduce an 'open' category for transgenders

FINA - the international governing body for swimming is one of the first olympic sport bodies to announce a ban on transgender athletes in female category. The sporting body plans to introduce a separate ‘Open’ category for transgender athletes to take part in elite tournaments.


What is the exception in FINA's rules for trans atheletes?

FINA's new ruled for male-to-female transgender atheletes states that they can compete in women's competitions only if “they can establish to FINA’s comfortable satisfaction that they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 (of puberty) or before age 12, whichever is later”.


Why has FINA taken the controversial yet landmark decision?

FINA has been facing the ire of LGBT activists and prominent transgener athletes from across the globe. However, the international swimming governing body has taken the decision to ensure fair competition in women's category. As per scientific evidence, male athletes who undergo the transition to become a woman (transgender) often manage to retain physical attributes that provides them unfair advantage when competing against women. Male-to-female transgender atheletes undergo hormonal therapy and testestone reduction but still manage to have physical advantage over other women.


FIFA and World Athletics to review their transgender policies

After FINA's decision to bar transgender athletes from participating in women's competitions, football's governing body FIFA and World Athletics are both likely to review their existing transgender policies. A FIFA spokesperson recently confirmed the organisation is reviewing their gender eligibility regulations.

"FIFA is currently reviewing its gender eligibility regulations in consultation with expert stakeholders. Due to the ongoing nature of the process, FIFA is not in a position to comment on specifics of proposed amendments to the existing regulations," the spokesperson told Reuters.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe praised FINA's decision and hinted at following their footsteps. "We see an international federation asserting its primacy in setting rules, regulations and policies that are in the best interest of its sport," he told the BBC.

"This is as it should be. We have always believed that biology trumps gender and we will continue to review our regulations in line with this. We will follow the science," he added.


Will other sporting bodies follow suit after FINA's decision?

It's decision time for several global sporting bodies as debate over transgender rules heats up once again. With FINA announcing the landmark decision and FIFA along with World Athletics likely to execute similar transgender policies, other sporting bodies can also follow suit.


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