WSCA releases position on transgender swimming

The World Swimming Coaches Association (WSCA) has released its position statement on transgender swimming.

It’s been a year of debate with this issue within the sport, especially with the emergence of the NCAA champion Lia Thomas. Many scientists and experts have intervened.

The WSCA’s position is that the competitive balance of women’s swimming cannot be assured with transgender athletes, although the group remains committed to finding a way to include transgender female swimmers on an equitable basis, according to the report, this which could eventually lead to a trans split. .

“For the sport of swimming, the inclusion of transgender people for reasons of equity cannot co-exist in the current competition model. Swimming should choose to offer competition in which the female category is protected for reasons competitive fairness.… The World Swimming Coaches Association (WSCA) has an unequivocal program for the sport of swimming to be experienced in an environment where everyone can participate in the sport and where everyone is treated with dignity and respect,” reads the report. “However, the inclusion of transgender people in women’s sport cannot be balanced with equity due to the retained differences in strength, endurance and physique that are present when the the average woman is compared to the average transgender woman/non-binary person who was assigned male at birth (with or without the involvement of testosterone suppression). l factor to consider in an attempt to balance equity and inclusion.

The WSCA said one possible solution is to create a Trans division.

“Trans women cannot compete fairly with biological women; however, providing them with the competition that is primarily to compete with biological men becomes unfair to the trans woman. It is the exact mirror image of the Trans Male. He has the same biological disadvantage that the trans woman has as an advantage. Yet forcing him to join a women’s division would in many cases (and in the least) violate our anti-doping rules,” the report said. “One of these solutions is to create a Trans division. Trans women will face off. The Trans Males will face off. There is an argument that trans men have been completely lost in this debate because they are not competitive in our current structure. This would also allow people of undetermined sex to be considered in such a solution.

The report then discusses the differences between Special Olympics, Invictus Games and Paralympic Games, all of which are based on biological factors.

“When the Paralympic Games started, it was called the Wheelchair Games. It was small. There were divisions of veterans and civilians which have now disappeared. Now the classifications are based only on biological factors… Thanks to the Kennedy family, the Special Olympics were born. This group initially catered to people with intellectual disabilities and, primarily at the time, those with Down syndrome. He recognized the biological differences between children on a “regular” intellectual development curve and those with developmental disabilities. … It seems that the interest of the British royal family in wounded warriors has greatly contributed to the development of the Paralympics. In recent times, the Paralympics are also serving those who have suffered significant trauma, congenital disabilities, cancer surgeries and the like in their lives. The biological difference between those whose legs were torn off in war and someone who runs with two good legs is quite obvious. The Invictus Games have become another calendar event that supports such differences in the composition of the athlete population.

Summary WSCA Considerations for the Future

1. Fairness is paramount in all sports, including the sport of swimming;

2. The sport of swimming is gender influenced and this manifests through the physical differences between men and women;

3. The sport of swimming rewards greater strength, endurance and/or physique;

4. Gender categories in the sport of swimming exist to ensure fairness and opportunity in competition;

5. Through a process of re-categorization, the sport of swimming should provide an alternative competitive model that would ensure inclusion and fairness.

• Read the full report here

The key pillars of WSCA

1. The WSCA is committed to including all people in competitive swimming. The introduction of a new and different model in the competitive areas of our sport will provide an alternative option to meet everyone’s needs;

2. Categorization by sex at birth remains the most useful and functional division in relation to sports performance. This categorization takes into account the wide range of significant performance differences between the sexes. Therefore, the sport of swimming should retain traditional gender categorization – in association with age and, where appropriate, disability – while finding a model of inclusion for transgender athletes;

3. Evidence indicates that it is right for transgender people to be included in the sport of swimming either in a male category and/or as athletes competing in a male category, but also entered in an “open” category . This assumes that the transgender person will often use testosterone supplementation, for which a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) will still be required under anti-doping rules which should apply equally to all swimming athletes of competition, whatever their category;

4. Competitive equity cannot be reconciled with self-identification as female in a gendered sport such as swimming. The average differences in strength, endurance and physique between the sexes are significant. Transgender women are, on average, likely to retain the physical benefits listed above even if testosterone suppression is used;

5. Categorization by sex is legal and therefore the requirement to request sex information at birth is appropriate. No one is required to provide information to a sports organization. However, failure to provide this information should mean that this person could not compete in the category of their choice. The sport of swimming should therefore provide options for people who prefer not to indicate their sex or gender. It would also be fair and consistent with the rules for anti-doping officers taking samples, which require observation and an associated obligation to grant clearance to any athlete wishing to participate in events subject to the WADA Code.


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