FINA, the international body that governs swimming and other water sports, effectively banned almost all transgender females from events. Trans athletes may not compete with biological females if they did not transition before 12 years of age.
Ignore for a moment the horror of parents “transitioning” their child before they are 12. Also put aside a global poll of doctors showing 94% believe a minimum age needs to be set and 62% think it should be 21.
The “gender inclusion” policy, announced on Sunday, was approved by 71.5% of FINA’s member federations. An “open” category will be created to allow all athletes to compete at the highest level.
Organization President Husain Al-Musallam said the body must protect “fairness at our events, especially the women’s category.”
The mess, of course, began when transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas switched from the school’s men’s team to its women’s squad in 2020. The most cursory glance at her rankings shows the overwhelming advantages the biological male brought to the pool.
During her last season with the men, she ranked 554th in the 200 freestyle, 65th in the 500 freestyle, and 32nd in the 1650 freestyle. Joining the women’s team brought a whole new level of success for the previously middling swimmer.
Those rankings soared to fifth, first, and eighth. Thomas became the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA title in March and said she wants to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Sixteen members of the Penn swim team sent the university and Ivy League a letter in February slamming Thomas’ “unfair advantage.” The signees support her personal transition, but not at the expense of biological females who’ve trained their whole lives for this chance.
Of course, the backlash was immediate. LGBT group Athlete Ally slammed the new policy as “deeply discriminatory, harmful, and unscientific.”
However, Olympic champion swimmer Cate Campbell declared Sunday that the fact of women’s and men’s physical differences ‘cannot be disputed.” Removing the category for biological women, Campbell said, “would be to the detriment of female athletes everywhere.”
It is surprising to see a dose of common sense injected into a debate that lost all reason before it even started. Biological women should compete with biological women, and just saying you’re a woman is as effective as putting on an apron and declaring yourself a cook.