New “open” category in elite swimming


FINA is the international federation recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the administration of international water sports competitions. It offers rules and regulations for major water sports such as swimming, diving, water polo among others.

FINA recently banned transgender women from competing in elite women’s competition. This decision was welcomed by many and criticized by a section as well.



The debate about it began in March when freestyler Lia Thomas – a transgender athlete – beat Olympic silver medalist in the medley Emma Weyant to win the prestigious US Collegiate title.

In order to protect the athletes’ rights to compete and, at the same time, to maintain competitive fairness at the events, particularly in the women’s category, FINA has introduced the new ‘open’ category. It aims to provide transgender athletes with the opportunity to compete in FINA competitions in the category that reflects their gender identity and does not compromise FINA’s goals for the women’s category.

As more and more transgender women participate in elite athletic competitions, there is growing recognition that trans women who became female after puberty still retain high amounts of testosterone, which gives them a competitive advantage over women.

A scientific working group set up by FINA found that post-pubescent men had circulating concentrations of testosterone at least 15 times higher than post-pubescent women. A biological female athlete cannot overcome this advantage through training or nutrition.

However, transgender men can compete in the male competition category as they gain no biological or physical advantage.

FINA’s decision could be seen as an integration of trans women into society. It can also serve as a platform for trans visibility. Meanwhile, world football’s governing body FIFA and World Athletics have said they will review their transgender eligibility policies, taking advice from medical, legal, scientific, performance and sports experts. human rights.

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