Riley Thomas applauds new policy restricting trans athletes in swimming

Riley Thomas applauds new policy restricting trans athletes in swimming

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Over the weekend, FINA, which is the world governing body for swimming, voted in favor of a new policy that says transgender swimmers will only be allowed in elite women’s competitions if they finished their transition by 12 years old.

They must also prove that they have continuously suppressed their testosterone levels since their transition.

“It’s finally some good news,” former UK swimmer Riley Gaines told LEX 18.

This past April, Gaines advocated for a Kentucky law that now bans trans girls in girls’ sports. The law was passed just one month after she tied transgender athlete Lia Thomas for fifth in the NCAA Swimming Championships.

“Swimming is a sport that obviously requires strength, stamina, you have to have good aerobic capacity, and these are all things that men are typically better than females at,” Gaines told LEX 18 in a Zoom interview Tuesday. “So when you’re using those factors in your sport and you have someone next to you who is just genetically better than you and there’s nothing you can do about it, no amount of training you can put into it to be better than the person next to you who is a male it really kinda is a defeating feeling.”

Meanwhile, Athlete Ally, which is an LGBTQ athletic advocacy group, heavily criticized the move.

“FINA’s new eligibility criteria for transgender athletes and athletes with intersex variations is deeply discriminatory, harmful, unscientific and not in line with the 2021 International Olympic Committee framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations,” said Anne Lieberman, Director of Policy and Programs at Athlete Ally. “The eligibility criteria for the women’s category as it is laid out in the policy police the bodies of all women, and will not be enforceable without seriously violating the privacy and human rights of any athlete looking to compete in the women’s category.”

FINA also announced a new working group that will focus on creating an “open” category for trans women in some events as part of the new policy. Some have argued that a separate category would exclude them from the sport.

FINA’s policy applies to other aquatic sports including diving, water polo, artistic swimming, and open water.

The policy is in direct conflict with the International Olympic Committee’s guidelines, which developed limits on the testosterone levels of transgender female athletes. The NCAA has similar rules.

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