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Governing body restricts trans swimmers; HRC responds
2022-06-19

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On June 19, swimming's world governing body, FINA, voted to restrict the participation of transgender athletes in women's events and will look into creating an "open competition" category, Yahoo! News reported.

FINA members voted 71.5% in favor of a policy that requires transgender swimmers to have completed their transition by age 12 to be able to compete, per the Associated Press. There are 152 national federations with voting rights.

The vote applies to all events beginning Monday, June 20, and includes NCAA swimmers. Part of the 24-page policy was a proposal for an "open competition" category.

The decision most immediately impacts Penn swimmer Lia Thomas, who became the first transgender NCAA champion in Division I history when she won the women's 500-yard freestyle in March. Thomas—who met NCAA standards for competition after undergoing testosterone suppression therapy for more than two years—has said she wants to continue swimming after college and eyed the 2024 U.S. Olympic trials.

In response, the Human Rights Campaign Interim President Joni Madison said in a statement, "This sudden and discriminatory decision 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.

"This policy is an example of swimming organizations caving to the avalanche of ill-informed, prejudiced attacks targeted at one particular transgender swimmer. We urge FINA to rethink its policy and ensure inclusion for all athletes—including transgender women—and allow them to participate in sports free from discrimination, abuse and harassment.

"To the young athletes who may be disheartened by this policy, know that we know and believe that every young person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and that transgender kids, like their friends, deserve the same chances to learn sportsmanship, self-discipline, and teamwork, and to build a sense of belonging with their peers."


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