Statement from Gender Justice on FINA policy restricting transgender women’s participation in swimming

Gender Justice is disappointed that FINA, the International Swimming Federation, has effectively banned trans women from elite swimming competitions. The swimming governing body ruling, which only makes an exception for an impossibly small minority of transgender women who completed their transition prior to age 12, is another alarming example of the relentless attacks on transgender people’s place in public life.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2022

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Erin Hart, Communications Director
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(508) 250-7621

Statement from Gender Justice on FINA policy restricting transgender women’s participation in swimming

ST PAUL, MINN: Gender Justice is disappointed that FINA, the International Swimming Federation, has effectively banned trans women from elite swimming competitions. The swimming governing body ruling, which only makes an exception for an impossibly small minority of transgender women who completed their transition prior to age 12, is another alarming example of the relentless attacks on transgender people’s place in public life. The ruling is discriminatory and sets a concerning precedent for other sports. Indeed, several days after the FINA ruling, the International Rugby League followed with a ban on trans women’s participation in competitions until further review.

“FINA’s decision to ban trans women from swimming is not based on science, but part of a coordinated effort to punish and isolate trans people for simply living their lives and pursuing their dreams,” said Megan Peterson, Gender Justice’s Executive Director. “Particularly as it becomes more difficult and dangerous for trans people, including trans kids, to receive life-saving gender affirming care—let alone by age 11—FINA’s ruling is nothing less than an outright ban on trans women in swimming. This ruling is not about fairness. It is about hostility toward trans people and all the ways they contribute to our society and world.”

In Minnesota, we are fighting a similar ban on transgender participation in sports. Just last year, we filed a formal complaint with co-counsel Nichols Kaster on behalf of our client, JayCee Cooper against USA Powerlifting for discriminating against trans athletes. We look forward to going to trial later this year to make our case that transgender athlete bans are discriminatory and specifically violate the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

There is no evidence that participation by transgender athletes negatively impacts girls’ or women’s sports. In fact, the Minnesota High School League is inclusive of trans athletes and Minnesota has led the nation in girls’ high school sports participation every year since 2011. Trans women participate in sports for the same reason as their cisgender teammates — for the physical and mental health benefits it brings, the invaluable lessons of teamwork and discipline, and lifelong friendships. FINA’s ruling undermines the very principles of sportsmanship: the right for everyone to compete equally and honestly, on the basis of their abilities alone.

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