Transgender UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas made waves this year as she won the NCAA women’s swimming championship and broke multiple swimming records.
The swimmer also reignited a debate over if male-to-female transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in women’s sports leagues. Female athletes, including athletes on Lia Thomas’ team, have spoken out against the practice which has denied biological female athletes the awards and entry in to high-level swimming competitions.
Over the weekend, members of Fina, the organization that governs most major swimming competitions, met to discuss the controversial issue.
After holding a vote, an overwhelming majority of its members voted to bar male-to-female transgender athletes from competing in women’s swimming competitions if they transitioned after puberty.
“It appears that swimming has finally jumped into action to prevent the rise of another Lia Thomas.
The organization has now ruled that males who experienced puberty will be ineligible to compete as women and that only transgender athletes who claim to have transitioned from male to female before the age of 12 years will be allowed to compete as women the BBC reported.
The group also decided to create new trans categories.
Seventy-one percent of Fina’s 152 members voted at its general congress to implement this new rule.
Fina tried to color the new policy as a way to implement “full inclusion” but not at the cost of “competitive fairness.”
“Fina’s approach in drafting this policy was comprehensive, science-based and inclusive, and, importantly, Fina’s approach emphasized competitive fairness,” said Fina executive director Brent Nowicki.
Fina President Husain Al-Musallam also noted that the rule aims to assure fairness.”
While many people have applauded the move, activist organizations have already spoken out against it.
Athlete Ally, a pro LGBT organization for athletes, called the decision ‘discriminatory’ in a post on Twitter earlier today.
FINA’s new eligibility criteria for transgender athletes and athletes with intersex variations is discriminatory, harmful, unscientific and not in line with the 2021 IOC principles. If we truly want to protect women’s sports, we must include all women. https://t.co/MDjrWB6GrU
— Athlete Ally (@AthleteAlly) June 19, 2022