Transgender Swimming Participation: FINA Makes Historic Ban Decision

But there's a bombshell twist

Article heading image for Transgender Swimming Participation: FINA Makes Historic Ban Decision

Kathryn Riley

Swimming’s world government body FINA has voted to restrict transgender women from competing in its sanctioned events – including the Olympics and world championships – but with a twist that could change international sport forever. 

FINA has proposed creating separate “open” races which will allow transgender athletes to still compete despite not fitting into the traditional gender categories.

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The new eligibility policy states male-to-female transgender athlete may only compete if “they can establish to FINA's comfortable satisfaction that they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 [of puberty] or before age 12, whichever is later.”

Female-to-male transgender people are eligible to compete in men’s swimming competitions.


The policy was put to 152 national federations who has gathered in Budapest on Sunday and was passed with roughly a 71 per cent majority.

"We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women's category at FINA competitions," said FINA's President Husain Al-Musallam. 

"FINA will always welcome every athlete. The creation of an open category will mean that everybody has the opportunity to compete at an elite level.

"This has not been done before, so FINA will need to lead the way. I want all athletes to feel included in being able to develop ideas during this process."

Athlete Ally, an advocating group to dismantle the systems of oppression in spots that isolates LGBTQI+ people slammed the decision as being “discriminatory, harmful [and] unscientific.”


However, there were many swimmers who spoke in favour for the decision including four-time Olympian for Australia Emily Seebohm.

She said prior to the official ruling she was happy FINA was bold enough to make a decision on transgender athletes but said swimmers must be prepared to accept the outcome whatever it may have been.

“It is good to see some movement happening and some changes coming into play because we couldn’t really continue on with the not knowing for very long,” she told News Corp.

“It is good there is finally going to be a decision and we can actually move our sport on to bigger and better things of being an inclusive sport and having everyone involved and we will have a better understanding of how that works.”

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19 June 2022

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