World Aquatics, the governing body of swimming, officially made an open category for transgender athletes ahead of a World Cup event in October. Unfortunately, not everyone is overly pleased with the decision, as an advocacy group spoke up about this controversial decision.
The new category will be open to all genders and identities. But Athlete Ally, an advocacy group that works to end homophobia and transphobia in sport, believes that this ruling is further alienating transgender athletes by not allowing them to compete in the gender-specific category that they identify as.
“As a society, we decided long ago that ‘separate but equal’ is dangerous and damaging,” the advocacy group said in a statement to CNN. “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.”
There have been a number of varying opinions on whether transgender athletes, specifically male athletes who transitioned to female, should then be allowed to compete in women’s sports.
This ruling allows for transgender athletes to compete, but not specifically in the type of competition that they may be hoping for.
The topic of transgender athletes in the sport of swimming gained traction back in 2020 in large part thanks to University of Penn swimmer Lia Thomas. Thomas began her collegiate swimming career on the Men’s swimming team for UPenn before her transition in 2019, and joined the Women’s team in 2020.