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Zissou's avatar

Has FINA found a fair way to include transgender athletes?

Asked by Zissou (3374points) June 20th, 2022

FINA, the organization that oversees competitive swimming, has decreed that (a) transgender athletes cannot compete in the women’s division unless they transition before age 12 and pass a testosterone test, and (b) in addition to men’s and women’s divisions there will be a new “open” division that permits transgender athletes.

If you have knowledge or experience of transgender issues or high-level athletic competition, what is your evaluation of FINA’s solution?

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2 Answers

Irukandji's avatar

This isn’t an inclusion policy. It’s a ban masquerading as a compromise. First, the policy makes it clear that FINA is talking about medical transition (changing one’s body and hormones), not social transition (changing one’s name, pronouns, and/or clothes). But it’s impossible to complete transitioning before the age of 12 when medical experts won’t even let people start until age 14.

Second, the testosterone test is discriminatory. Many of the top cis women in athletics also have high testosterone, but nothing in this policy would prevent them from competing against other cis women (even if their testosterone level is higher than any given trans woman’s might be). It’s like saying you can’t be a NASCAR driver if you use high octane fuel, but we’re only going to check the cars driven by Californians.

The open division is a step in the right direction, but it’s going to be limited to only a few events. This means that it starts out as inherently non-inclusive and is likely to get less attention. Instead, the open division should be the default, and the secondary division should be for people who don’t want to compete in an inclusive environment.

Smashley's avatar

It sort of works. I think what no one says out loud is that women’s sports are (in virtually every sport besides curling) a protected subset of the sport. We want to include women, but if we made everyone compete on the same level, women wouldn’t get to play, generally.

Mash that truth into the truth that going through male puberty is a major sporting advantage, and mash that into the sanctity of fair competition, and you have a basically unsolvable problem. While it is unfair to exclude a person for their gender, this is exactly what happens to ciswomen who lose opportunity to women who have gone through male puberty.

This policy attempts to attack the puberty problem fairly, though the devil will be in the details. It’s a very hard standard to lock down.

“Open” is sort of nonsensical. Male leagues are open to women who can compete. It’s women’s leagues that are closed for their own protection. To create a third grouping would basically be the late transitioners and the cismen who want to compete against them. Both leagues could not survive long term.

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