Landmark decision for transgender athletes

The international swimming federation Fina published new rules on Sunday according to which transgender swimmers are only eligible to compete in female competitions if they have not gone through male puberty. The decision has reignited the discution about equal opportunities and inclusion in sport.

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The Independent (GB) /

An unfair ruling

Transgender athlete Kylie MacFarquharson voices her outrage in The Independent:

“Any suggestion that it's fairer for Thomas, an elite athlete before and after her transition, to compete with men who win with times 25 seconds faster than her, than for her to compete with women who are behind by a second, is a farce. ... Claims of inclusion are insulting when the policy makes it impossible in practice for trans women to compete at an elite level. This decision will be used to justify anti-trans policies in other sports in the future, and continues to toxify the debate on trans inclusion in sport.”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

Hard but right

There is no easy solution in the debate about transgender professional athletes, says the Irish Examiner:

“[The international swimming association Fina's] argument, in short, was that swimmers such as [US swimmer Lia] Thomas retain significant physical advantages - in endurance, power, speed, strength and lung size - from undergoing male puberty even if testosterone is later suppressed. The science backs that up. ... The solution that most sports leaders crave - a magic bullet that would allow full inclusion, fairness and safety - looks more impossible than ever. ... Decisions are having to be made. Hard choices, too.”

The Guardian (GB) /

The start of a wave of lawsuits

It should be remembered that this ruling only applies to elite sport, The Guardian stresses:

“At less exalted levels, inclusion may be of much greater importance than absolute competitive fairness. After all, sport is often not 'fair' in the sense that competition favours those of certain body types - for example, the high jump tends to select for tall, thin athletes and discus throwing for those able to produce explosive power. In the months ahead, more sports organisations are likely to come out with their own eligibility criteria - and sports lawyers will probably be busy, too, as challenges to them emerge.”