After the FINA decision, do other sports restrict transgender athletes?

After the FINA decision, do other sports restrict transgender athletes? originally appeared in NBC Sports Philadelphia

The participation of transgender athletes in competitive sports remains a contentious issue, in particular the inclusion of transgender women and girls in women’s sports.

Some argue that transgender women competing in the women’s sport have an unfair competitive advantage due to gender differences and human physiology. Others see the ban on transgender women as discriminatory, especially if they have undergone hormone replacement therapy, which has been shown to deny the physical advantages that women could have over cisgender.

While some sports have established standards and policies to address non-compliance, others have not.

On Sunday, the world’s governing body for swimming, FINA, announced a new policy, effective Monday, that restricts the participation of transgender athletes in elite women’s competitions.

The regulation comes after University of Pennsylvania swimmer Leah Thomas won the women’s 500-yard freestyle race in March 2022. She also went down in history as the first known transgender man to win a Division I national title, but under this new rule she will not be eligible to compete in elite women’s competitions.

Here’s everything you need to know about FINA’s new policy and other policies on transgender athletes:

What was FINA’s decision for transgender swimmers?

On Sunday, FINA voted to limit the participation of transgender athletes in elite women’s swimming competitions.

The new rules state that those who have passed before the age of 12 will be the only swimmers to be allowed to compete, effective Monday. However, the transition before puberty is not recommended by medical experts. Last week the World Professional Association for Transsexual Health reduce the recommended age for trans children to start hormone therapy up to 14 years of age from 16 years of age.

Every swimmer who competes in women’s competitions will also need to maintain a testosterone level below 2.5 nanomoles per liter (nmol / L). According to Sinai Mountain Health Systemnormal testosterone levels in women are between 0.5 and 2.4 nmol / L.

FINA also mentioned that it will create an “open” category for some events as part of the new policy, but this will be in progress over the next six months.

A total of 71.5% of FINA members voted in favor of what they called the growing “gender mainstreaming policy” at the organization’s general congress, which also included presentations from three specialized groups, a group of athletes, a group of science and medicine and legal and human rights group.

Are there other sports that limit the participation of transgender athletes?


World Athletics, the international governing body for athletics, has specific guidelines for transgender women.

For athletes who want to compete in international competitions at distances between 400 m and one mile, they must first reduce their testosterone levels to below 5 nmol / L, which World Athletics calls it “the highest level a healthy woman with ovaries would have.”

These levels must last six months and remain at that level while competing.


Wrestling is another sport that has some guidelines for the participation of transgender athletes.

According to USA Wrestlingindividuals who pass from man to woman before puberty are considered girls and women (women), and those who pass from woman to man are considered boys and men (men).

Persons who go from woman to man after puberty are eligible to compete in the men’s category without restriction, as long as the athlete has declared that he is a man.

For people who switch from male to female, several steps need to be taken:

  • -The athlete must declare that his / her gender identity is a woman, a declaration lasting at least four years for sports purposes

  • The athlete must have a testosterone level below 10 nmol / L for at least 12 months before the first race throughout the desired eligibility period.

  • The athlete can be monitored by testing

Laurel Hubbard, a transgender woman from New Zealand, competed in the women’s 87kg category at the Tokyo Olympics by qualifying. She became the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics.


Like from the last weekThe International Cycling Union now requires athletes who switch from men to women to be on low testosterone for two years instead of one. Permitted testosterone levels were also lowered from 5 nmol / L to 2.5 nmol / L.

What is the NCAA’s position on transgender student-athletes?

NCAA Board of Governors create a new policy in January, which appoints the governing body of each sport to decide on transgender participation, a consistent approach with the Olympics.

The sport-to-sports approach to transgender participation “preserves the opportunity for transgender student athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete,” the NCAA said.

However, starting in the 2022-23 school year, the NCAA encourages units to be flexible as long as transgender student-athletes meet the new standards, which include:

  • Transgender student-athletes should document sport-specific testosterone levels starting four weeks before choosing a sports championship.

  • Transgender student athletes must first provide documented levels at the beginning of their season and a second documentation six months later, effective for the 2022-23 school year.

What is the IOC’s position on transgender athletes?

Last November, the IOC issued an updated manual on transgender athletes. Previously, it focused on testosterone levels, which led to some athletes undergoing “invasive medical examinations” that caused them “serious harm”, according to the IOC. The new council recommends that the athlete’s eligibility be based on actual evidence of performance advantage.

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