As elite sports are again thinking about trance participation, our only demand is for justice | Chris Mozier

A a long list of elite sports – swimming, water polo, diving, figure swimming, scuba diving and open water swimming – are affected by new rules that exclude almost all transgender women from the competition. The policy of the International Swimming Federation Fina is the biggest ban on the participation of trans people in sports so far.

I am a trans man and a professional athlete in events, including triathlon,, and it immediately became clear to me that the new swimming policy is not based on science, facts or human rights and that it will deeply harm all women in the sport. The impetus for this attack on transgender athletes is based on media stories, hypothetical “what if” scenarios and stereotypes. Fina’s policy is a solution to the problem. It seems likely that other sports will come up with similar solutions. In the United Kingdom, Culture Minister Nadine Doris said she would urge them to do so.

Trance inclusion policies have been introduced at the highest level of sport for decades without a problem. This solution is poorly designed and lacks scientific support and illustrates that when sports organizations seek to ban transgender people from participating, they can easily find “experts” to support their position while ignoring the realities of participation.

Fina’s new policy requires athletes to switch before the onset of puberty, but as transgender youth access to gender-sensitive care is threatened in many US states and countries around the world, it is becoming increasingly difficult. And politics does nothing to protect women’s sports or to protect women’s gender in sports; on the contrary, Fina’s new eligibility criteria will require invasive testing to decide who is considered a woman and who is not, and allows each athlete to be randomly targeted or tested. This policy allows for the violation of privacy and bodily autonomy for all women athletes, practices that have been called for by human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the office of the UN High Commissioner.

Guidelines for including trance are being considered in many sports – the International Rugby League announced this week that it will ban trance women from competing under the guise of “justice”. But if politicians were really interested in justice in sports, they would study the real problems that plague their organizations. They will investigate allegations of sexual misconduct and corruption and real inequalities in access, funding, development opportunities and media coverage. There are many ways in which the sports industry, and especially women’s sports, can be improved; banning transgender athletes is not one of them.

Misinformation is used as a key element in this attack on justice and security. The truth is that transgender women and girls are drastically underrepresented in women’s sports. Recent studies show that 0.6% of Americans identify as transsexual. With about 220,000 women competing in the NCAA sport last year, that should amount to about 1,300 transgender athletes, but the actual number is negligible. Any policy for our involvement in sport must be based on the reality of our participation, not on false fears and policies.

Those who compete are not dominant, nor have they ever dominated the sport. No transgender woman has competed or is currently competing in women’s swimming at the Olympic level. Since the first policy on transgender athletes at the Olympic level was introduced in 2003, we have seen more than 63,000 athletes become Olympians. Only two transgender women reached the Olympics during that time and only one competed in Tokyo 2020 (the other was the reserve).

A realistic, fair policy would explain this truth by examining why transgender athletes are not represented at different levels of the game – as opposed to trying to block those who try to participate.

Fina’s policy calls for the creation of a third, “open” category in which transgender athletes can enter, which is not a sensible solution. In some sports, such as running, “open” or non-binary categories, they have been introduced as an option for athletes who do not feel comfortable competing in the binary system of men’s and women’s sports. But this is an option for an athlete to choose for themselves, not a requirement.

Divided is never equal. Requiring all transgender athletes to compete in a separate third category is isolating and harmful. In addition, this harmful policy deprives all athletes of the incredibly powerful social and societal aspects of sport, which include building meaningful relationships and learning from a diverse group of teammates and other participants.

I found friends, family and community through my participation in sports; my teammates and coaches were some of my biggest allies both in the transition and in life, thanks in large part to our connection to the common interest in the sports we play. Everyone deserves to have this opportunity to make such connections and learn about others and themselves through sports.

It is unfortunate that the swimming community has distorted under the pressure of trance defenders, without taking into account the greater impact that this will have on all women in the sport. Policies like this suggest that we do not believe in the strength and power of women athletes – and that we do not recognize or accept the variety of bodies that already exist among cisgender women who differ in height, weight, strength, speed and agility like everyone else. .

Pride Month is a cultural moment to appreciate the ongoing struggle for justice amid a wave of untruths. The truth will not rest, nor will athletes committed to their love of sports and the connection it provides.

Chris Mozier is a professional athlete and founder of transathlete.com

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