Is banning transgender athletes from women's swimming fair?

The sharpest opinions on the debate from around the web

Lia Thomas.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

The International Swimming Federation (FINA), the world governing body of swimming, just voted to bar transgender women from competing in women's events. The "gender inclusion policy" offers the possibility of exceptions for swimmers who transitioned before age 12, but requires all other transgender women to compete in a new "open competition category." "This is not saying that people are encouraged to transition by the age of 12. It's what the scientists are saying, that if you transition after the start of puberty, you have an advantage, which is unfair," James Pearce, who is the spokesperson for FINA president Husain Al-Musallam, told The Associated Press.

Pearce said there were no transgender women currently competing internationally at the highest levels of the sport. Still, the decision addressed mounting objections sparked by the success of Lia Thomas at the college level. Thomas in March won the NCAA swimming championship in the 500-yard freestyle, becoming the first transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming title. Thomas said recently that transgender women don't threaten women's sports, but numerous athletes praised the decision. Rugby officials promptly banned trans women from their sport, and many expect soccer and athletics to follow soon. Is this necessary to eliminate the "unfair" strength advantage FINA says transgender women who transition have over other women, or is it a step backward for transgender rights?

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