The governing body for swimming, World Aquatics, has announced that they are creating an open category for transgender athletes at the World Cup event in Berlin.
The category will host athletes of “all sex and gender identities” and will feature "50m and 100m races across all strokes.“
“This pioneering pilot project highlights the organization's unwavering commitment to inclusivity,” a statement from World Aquatics reads. “Detailed entry requirements and entry times and process information will be available soon. For this inaugural event, the emphasis is on gaining further experience for future development and celebrating diversity.”
World Aquatics Creates Category For Trans Athletes
World Aquatics – previously known as FINA – voted last year to prohibit transgender athletes from elite women’s aquatics competitions. Male-to-female athletes are completely barred unless they began transitioning before the age of 12 or before they reached stage two on the puberty Tanner Scale. Female-to-male athletes may only compete in the women's categories if they have been using testosterone for less than one year.
While World Aquatics celebrated their decision for promoting diversity, transgender athletes and activists still expressed dismay. Athlete Ally, a group that works to combat homophobia and transphobia in athletics, told CNN Sport that the decision “promotes further othering and alienation of transgender athletes who already face tremendous stigma and abuse.”
“As a society, we decided long ago that ‘separate but equal’ is dangerous and damaging," they said. "This policy does nothing to provide the kind of protections to women athletes that they have been calling for for decades — an end to sexual harassment and abuse, parity in pay and leadership, equal opportunities, and a lack of resources for women athletes. Instead, this only increases hostile gender norms and invasive testing that hurt all women athletes.”
The swimming World Cup event takes place in Berlin, Germany this year from October 6 to 8.