The world governing body for swimming, FINA, has officially voted to ban transgender women from participating in women’s swimming competitions. NPR reports that the vote was met with a 71.5% approval rate during the FINA Extraordinary General Congress, which was held in Budapest.
According to the new policy, transgender women are required to show “they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.” It also deems that the move was necessary to use sex and sex-linked traits to determine criteria due to the “performance gap” between male and females during the Tanner Stages – a term used to describe the physical changes experienced by a person while experiencing puberty.
“We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions,” said FINA’s president, Husain Al-Musallam, in a statement.
Furthermore, the group says the policy was determined following consultations with athletic, scientific, and legal experts. LGBTQ+ advocacy groups have spoken out against the latest set of rules. Athlete Ally called the policy “discriminatory, harmful, [and] unscientific.”
“The eligibility criteria for the women’s category as it is laid out in the policy police the bodies of all women, and will not be enforceable without seriously violating the privacy and human rights of any athlete looking to compete in the women’s category,” said Anne Liberman, director of policy and programs at Athlete Ally.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, the conclusion is a “blatant attack on transgender athletes who have worked to comply with longstanding policies that have allowed them to participate for years without issue.”
FINA said that in the future it will consider an “open” category for individuals who don’t meet the eligibility required for neither men’s or women’s events. The new policy goes into effect Monday (June 20).