Swimmers have been caught at a crossroad regarding the recent debate over transgender athletes competing in women’s events. The International Swimming Federation concluded that the transgender female athletes who have transitioned after the age of 12 will be excluded from competing in female swimming events. Athletic performance is heavily determined by sex, with males out-performing females in almost all categories, including swimming. Many view this policy as discriminatory and offensive, whereas others view it as a scientifically accurate decision, made to benefit cisgender female athletes as well as transgender athletes.
FINA president Husain Al-Musallam said, “We are faced with such a delicate balancing act, we have to protect the rights of all our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially women’s competition and also the past record and achievement of the women.” Al-Musallam announced that swimming will be the first sport to introduce an open category, where anybody regardless of their gender identity can compete at an Olympic level.
Many Olympic swimmers have come forward, announcing their stance on this divisive topic. Olympic champion Cate Campbell publicly voiced her support for the FINA policy. “Believe me, I have wrestled long and hard with myself, with what to say and do. I am aware that my actions and words, no matter what I say, will anger some people — whether they are from the trans-community or from the cisgender female community.” Campbell said in her speech. “However, I am asking everyone to take a breath, to absorb before reacting. Listen to the science and experts.”. Other female Olympic champions like Summer Sanders and Emily Seebohm have voiced their support of the policy, claiming that it is inclusive of transgender individuals by giving them an opportunity to compete in the sport.
Former Australian swimmer Madeline Groves responded to Cate Campbell’s speech on Twitter, chastising her decision to support the discrimination of transgender individuals. “So you ban them from competing with their peers? You’re okay with ostracising an already marginalised group? Real accepting.” Groves tweeted. “Shame on everyone that supported this discriminatory and unscientific decision.”
The International Swimming Federation concluded that transgender female athletes who transitioned before the age of 12 would be excluded from competing in their events due to their biological advantages. However there is already speculation that the policy will be challenged by legal experts around the world due to the discrimination within the conditions of the policy.
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