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Swimming: New Rules for Transgender Swimmers

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

The world governing body of swimming, FINA, has voted to exclude transgender swimmers from competing in elite women’s events if they have gone through any stage of male puberty.

The new rules, prompted by the case of US college swimmer, Lia Thomas, require transgender swimmers to have completed their transition from male to female by the age of twelve for them to be able to compete in women’s competitions.

These rules were passed on 19 June 2022 by 71% of the votes of FINA members and have been characterised as “only a first step towards full inclusion” for transgender swimmers.

The Executive Director of FINA, Brent Nowicki, has stated as follows:

FINA’s approach in drafting this policy was comprehensive, science-based and inclusive, and, importantly, FINA’s approach emphasised competitive fairness.”

This move by FINA follows a decision made on 16 June 2022 by the world governing body of cycling, UCI, to double the transition time period before a former male rider can compete in women’s events.

FINA has also announced that it intends to establish an ‘open’ category at competitions for swimmers whose gender identity is different from that of their birth gender.

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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