FINA, the governing body for international swimming, approved new policies for transgender athletes on Sunday.
The new policy will allow transgender swimmers to compete in women’s events who transitioned before the age of 12. The policy will go into effect on Monday.
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FINA members voted 71.5% in favor vote the new “gender inclusion policy.”
“We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions,” FINA president Husain Al-Musallam said in a statement.
“FINA will always welcome every athlete. The creation of an open category will mean that everybody has the opportunity to compete at an elite level. This has not been done before, so FINA will need to lead the way. I want all athletes to feel included in being able to develop ideas during this process.”
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Lia Thomas’ sudden emergence in the pool during the NCAA swimming season shined the spotlight on the new rules. Thomas became the first transgender swimmer to pick up wins in the NCAA and the Ivy League Championships over the last few months. She swam for the University of Pennsylvania.