Trans athlete Ivy calls FINA policy ‘unscientific’


Swimming – 18th FINA World Swimming Championships – Women’s 50m Butterfly Heats – Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center, Gwangju, South Korea – July 26, 2019. Swimmers compete. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

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BENGALURU, June 21 (Reuters) – Transgender cyclist Veronica Ivy has questioned swimming’s governing body FINA’s decision to restrict the participation of trans athletes in elite women’s competitions, telling Reuters that there had not been enough research to guide such decisions.

Ivy also criticized FINA’s plans to explore an ‘open’ category as part of its policy adopted following a vote at its Extraordinary General Congress on Sunday, saying such a move does not respect athletes. trans.

FINA’s decision, the toughest of any Olympic sports body, came after members heard a report from a transgender task force made up of medical, legal and sports figures. Read more

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FINA’s new Competition Eligibility Policy states that male-to-female transgender athletes are only eligible to compete if “they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner’s Stage 2 (from puberty) or before the age of 12, whichever is later”.

Canadian Ivy, who in 2018 became the first transgender UCI masters track cycling world champion by winning the women’s 35-44 category, called FINA’s policy “unscientific”.

“There hasn’t been a single peer-reviewed study of competitive trans swimmers to show that there is a competitive advantage for post-pubertal transition,” Ivy said.

“So to isolate puberty because the breaking point is not based on any evidence, it’s not based on them seeing a benefit for trans women, they only looked at cisgender male athletes compared to female cisgender athletes.

“That’s not how it works. When you’re trying to single out trans women, you have to study trans female athletes…FINA hasn’t done that.”

With the world championships currently taking place in Budapest, FINA was not immediately available for comment.

But FINA’s claim that trans female athletes retain some physical advantages despite testosterone suppression after going through male puberty has been backed up by a study by Joanna Harper, a PhD student at Loughborough University.

This article concluded that “strength can be well preserved” in trans women during the first three years of hormone therapy.


“It’s reasonable to impose restrictions on trans women in international-level athletic competition,” Harper said, adding that she was disappointed but not surprised by FINA’s policy.

“Restricting participation only to trans women who have never experienced male puberty is not necessary to ensure meaningful competition for all women.

“As for the open category, I am skeptical, but I will reserve judgment until I see the finished product. Will there be Olympic medals in swimming in the open category? Swimmers in this category will they be able to earn a living as professionals?”

The debate around trans female athletes has intensified after University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas became the first transgender NCAA champion in Division I history after winning the 500-meter freestyle. female this year.

Rugby league also banned transgender players from women’s international competition on Tuesday. Read more

World football body FIFA is consulting on transgender participation while World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe has praised FINA for its stance. Read more

The International Cycling Union has also tightened its rules on transgender participation. Read more

Ivy said FINA’s decision was likely due to Thomas, who has not won a world title or competed in the Olympics.

“In the United States, trans people are under attack…People trying to shut down treatment and access to health care and sports…politicians calling for us to be murdered,” he said. she declared.

“That’s the context in which we see something like this.”

Harper said it was important for sports bodies to continue collecting data.

“I would suggest that whatever decisions they make today they review them regularly and hopefully as more and better data comes out they come up with better policies,” he said. Harper.

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Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru Editing by Toby Davis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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