Trans participation in sport: why FINA’s new policy is far from good news


The International Swimming Federation has just presented their policy in favor of inclusion of transgender athletes. Good news ? Not so much if we listen to the first person. The verdict is really lukewarm for trans people who believe it is exclusionary and stigmatizing.

It’s a historic decision in high-level sports. The International Swimming Federation announced its new policy on inclusion of transgender athletes on Sunday, June 19th.

Among the measures that will come into effect this week, open category for trans people, in addition to the male and female categories. ” Fina will always welcome any athlete. “, the federation insists:

“Creating an open category will mean everyone has the opportunity to compete at an elite level. This has never been done before, so Fina will take the lead. I want all athletes to feel involved and able to develop their ideas in this process. »

If Fina seems to be proud of this new policy, you only have to listen to trans athletes to understand. it is far, far from being so satisfying.

Fina has created a new category specifically for trans people, prohibiting them from participating in competitions in the men’s and women’s categories.

If we go a little further than this additional category, we also discover that trans women may be allowed to join the female-only category. If they transitioned before age 12, that is, before puberty. Fina sets a hard-to-reach criterion, excluding almost all trans women from high-level sporting events.

“It’s not just about sports”

on Twitter, the platform Wikitrans deciphers this decision and denounces its profound consequences:

wikitrans reactions fina – twitter

American professional runner Chris Mosier, who is also trans, reminded why this decision puts trans people at risk even beyond the sport:

“Like how the media covers the news, like Fina’s new policy to ban trans athletes, and how sports organizations discuss us in their policies, it directly impacts how cisgender people around the world see, think, speak and act about trans people.

The perpetual story of trans people who do not belong to certain fields such as sports places a dynamic in the real world. out of the basins, the fields, the tracks, where we are still the target of new attacks.

It’s not just about sports; It’s about trans people’s capacity to be themselves and to live in a world that increasingly says we don’t belong. This is what is playing out before us in real time in sports, medicine, school curricula and other fields where our rights have been erased. »

Canadian journalist and activist Shireen Ahmed, who works to combat racism and sexism in sports, also reacted:

“Attacks against women continue to frighten. Controlling athletes’ bodies does not protect women in sport. It excludes them and targets the marginalized.”

American football player Megan Rapinoe agrees with Fina’s new policy. “cruel”and D’“disgusting” :

“Prove to me that trans women win all scholarships, dominate all sports, win all titles. »

Is there a link between performance and testosterone?

Megan Rapinoe really puts her finger on an often-heard argument to oppose the presence of trans women in sporting events: The supposed advantage of trans women over cisgender women.

“Trans women are always referred to performances that are considered masculine and presented as better performances than cisgender women. The author of the book, sociologist Emmanuel Beaubatie, tells Usbek&Rica: nymphomaniac.

Are they really advantageous? Are performance differences between men and women just due to testosterone? Taking hormone therapy as part of their transition, trans women are actually seeing their rates drop.

According to socio-historian Anaïs Bohuon, who specializes in research on the body, gender, and sport, it’s still wrong to cling to hormones, as she explains in Usbek&Rica: “We act as if only testosterone makes it possible to improve performance when the social, cultural, economic, environmental, political… and genetic components form a complex, inseparable whole to explain sports performance, excellence, for all athletes and top athletes.”

But what about cissexual women who naturally produce testosterone? Hyperandrogenic women, such as South African athlete Caster Semenya, for whom the International Athletic Federation has treated to lower their hormone levels, are under penalty of disqualification from competitions.

We learn from a long documented article published on XY Media that despite a lot of research on the subject, The relationship between performance and testosterone has not always been proven.

But that’s what overheard the controversy about Lia Thomas, the first transgender female swimmer to win a university title in the United States last March. His case was especially brought forward by reactionaries to perpetuate the idea of ​​a threat to aggravate women in sport, thereby gradually regulating restrictions. By New York Times18 states have passed laws limiting or prohibiting transgender people from participating in sports, especially in schools.

Aspect Pointing to Chris MosierFina’s decision will have serious consequences, and not just for trans people: “All women suffer when sports organizations try to control the bodies of female athletes. Point. »

Will other disciplines come after swimming?

The issue of welcoming and incorporating trans athletes has not been inked. Especially after Fina, it was International Rugby League’s turn to issue new exclusion directives for rugby league competitions: “Male-to-female players cannot participate in women’s international rugby matches”said Tuesday, June 21.

Also read:

Don’t be fooled by the transphobic discussion of some “feminists” about conversion therapy.

Photo credit: Jim de Ramos, via Pexels

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