FINA Banned Transgenders From Competing in Female Swimming Events

FINA, a governing body that conducts international water sports, limited the inclusion of transgender athletes in women’s swimming competitions. 

After the enforcement of the new policy on Monday, only transgenders who transitioned before turning 12 will be allowed to participate in women’s sports.

Landmark Decision: Women Swimming Protected From Unfair Competition

In its 24-page policy, which was approved by 71% of members of the organization, FINA explained the rules for transgender men and women participating in water sports, specifically swimming competitions.

Under the new policy, only transgenders who can provide conclusive evidence that they suppressed their male puberty before age 12 or at Tanner Stage 2, whichever is later, can compete in women’s competitions.

Similarly, the players would also have to prove they maintained a maximum of 2.5 nmol/L testosterone levels in their serum after turning 12.

Even if they fail to prove it unintentionally, it will result in their retrospective disqualification and ineligibility.

In contrast to this, female-to-male transgenders would also need to prove their capabilities to compete in some high-risk events.

For instance, in water polo and high diving competitions, these transgender athletes have to provide risk assumption forms to FINA so the organization can estimate their ability to cope with possible physical injury by playing men’s sports.

However, transgenders would be able to participate in all “open events” that the organization may introduce from time to time.


After the release of the historic policy, FINA president Husain Al-Musallam noted the organization has to protect the rights of athletes by keeping the competition fair in parallel.

The president also invited athletes to come forward and bring ideas for the open events which can host all the athletes, irrespective of their genders.

Furthermore, executive director of the governing body, Brent Nowicki, asserted FINA used a comprehensive and scientific approach in finalizing the policy to ensure competitive fairness.

Swimming Legends Appreciated FINA Decision

The issue of transgenders’ involvement in women’s sports became pertinent when Lia Thomas, a transgender, stood first in the women’s NCAA championship.

She already expressed her aim to participate in the 2024 Olympics in the women’s category, but this decision of FINA will stop her from doing so. Former athletes lauded FINA’s efforts in protecting women’s sports.

Sharron Davies, a former Great Britain swimmer who campaigned against allowing transgenders in women’s sports at an elite level, said she was “really proud” of the governing body.

Davies further noted no other body took steps to include science in their policy-making approach, which was detrimental to the existence of female sports.

As FINA made its policy based on science, it will eventually allow fair competition at such a high level, Davies added.

While defending the exclusion of transgenders from swimming competitions, Davies claimed every sport is based on exclusionary practices. After all, you cannot allow a 15-year-old athlete to compete in the Under 12 races.


So making categories within sports, Davies continued, creates fair opportunities for everyone.

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