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International Federation Issues Huge Ruling on Transgender Athletes and Women's Swimming

(Image credit: Thomas Park/Unsplash)

Controversy over biological men competing in women's sports has been a hot-button issue for years due to concerns over competitive fairness. 

FINA, the international swimming federation, announced Sunday that transgender athletes are permitted to compete in women's sports if they transitioned before the age of 12.

The 24-page guideline, which takes effect Monday, specifies how transgender men and women are allowed to participate under the new rules.

FINA members voted 71.5 percent in favor of the new policies. 

CBN News and CBN's Faithwire have extensively reported on the increase of biological males who are dominating girls' athletic competitions because they can compete as females.

Lia Thomas, a transgender collegiate swimmer with the University of Pennsylvania, has become the face of the debate over sports and gender identity. 

Thomas competed for three seasons as Will Thomas on the UPenn men's swimming team but started competing on the women's team last fall. He began taking hormone replacement therapy to lower his testosterone in May of 2019. 

British former swimmer Sharron Davies tweeted her support for FINA's decision.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of my sport … for doing the science, asking the athletes/coaches and standing up for fair sport for females," her tweet read. "Swimming will always welcome everyone no matter how you identify but fairness is the cornerstone of sport."

Meanwhile, LGBT advocacy group, Athlete Ally, opposed the new policy.

"FINA's new eligibility criteria for transgender athletes and athletes with intersex variations is discriminatory, harmful, unscientific and not in line with the 2021 IOC principles," its tweet read. "If we truly want to protect women's sports, we must include all women."

FINA plans to create an "open" category for competitions within the next six months. 

"FINA will always welcome every athlete," president Husain Al-Musallam said. "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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