The World Swimming Coaches Association (WSCA) released a position statement on transgender swimming, recommending that the International Swimming Federation (FINA, Fédération Internationale de Natation) create a “Trans Division” in which transgender females only race other transgender females and transgender males only races other transgender males.
“Competitive fairness cannot be reconciled with self-identification into the female category in a gender-affected sport such as swimming,” the statement reads. “The average differences in strength, stamina and physique between the sexes is significant. Transgender females are, on average, likely to retain physical advantages listed above even if testosterone suppression is utilized.
“… If we want to protect female sports, grow our sport and create fair competitions, there is a strong argument that we need to follow the path of history and create a new division for such Trans athletes,” the association concluded.
While debate around transgender athletes is not new, the controversy surrounding University of Pennsylvania’s (UPenn) transgender swimmer Lia Thomas brought the contention to new heights.
Thomas, a biological male, shattered record after record this year during his first season as a member of UPenn’s women’s swimming team. He previously competed on UPenn’s men’s swim team for three years before “transitioning” to a female. Thomas’ last known men’s event was Nov. 16, 2019, and he shared in a Dec. 9 interview with SwimSwam that he has been on hormone treatments for nearly two and a half years.
University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, who tied with Thomas for fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle NCAA swimming championships in March, applauded WSCA’s call for a separate division for transgender athletes, as well as USA Swimming’s change in policy requiring transgender women competing at elite levels to have low testosterone for 36 months. However, she believes there is more to be done.
“I think it’s great that we have these small governing bodies willing to come out and make these statements,” she told Fox News, “but I think the decision ultimately lies in these bigger organizations like the NCAA, like FINA and like the IOC (International Olympic Committee) … How many small governing bodies is it going to take before these bigger organizations listen?”
To pretend that biological males don’t have an unfair physical advantage over biological women “defies logic, reason, science and common sense, quite frankly,” Gaines said.
Above: UPenn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas (left) and University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines (right) share the podium after tying for fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 18th at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire DKB/Newscom