Lia Thomas sparked a great deal of controversy when she became the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division 1 national championship. Thomas said after her dominant performance that she hoped to compete in the Olympics someday. That dream may have been dashed as a new rule would prevent her from participating in international competitions.
FINA, the world’s governing body of competitive swimming, created a new “gender inclusion policy” over the weekend. The rule states that only swimmers who transitioned before the age of twelve will be allowed to compete. An “open competition” category was proposed, but not adopted, as a compromise.
Husain Al-Musallam told the Associated Press that the new rule was about creating fair competition. The FINA president explained that the rule is not meant to encourage young people to transition before they are ready. FINA’s stance is that anyone who has gone through male puberty should not be allowed to compete with people assigned female at birth.
“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.
They’re not saying everyone should transition by age 11, that’s ridiculous. You can’t transition by that age in most countries and hopefully you wouldn’t be encouraged to. Basically, what they’re saying is that it is not feasible for people who have transitioned to compete without having an advantage.”
Lia Thomas has not yet responded to the new rule adopted by FINA. There are sure to be plenty who question the decision. For now, it appears Lia’s spot as an Olympic hopeful is in grave jeopardy.
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