FINA, the world governing body for swimming, has voted to ban transgender athletes from participating in women’s competitions if they have reached male puberty.
According to an ESPN report, the new policy prohibits transgender participants from participating in women’s competitions unless they have completed the transition by the age of 12.
FINA said it will spend the next six months determining how to create an “open” category in some competitions.
According to the BBC, FINA President Hussein Al-Musallam said that they seek to “protect the rights of our athletes to participate in competitions” and also seek to “protect competitive justice.”
This decision prohibits Leah Thomas from participating in future elite women’s competitions.
In March, she became the first openly transgender woman to win the NCAA Division I women’s swimming title. Thomas swam for the Pennsylvania men’s team before starting hormone treatment in 2019.
Although Thomas did not respond to the decision, she discussed objections from others, including 16 Penn teammates who wrote an anonymous letter, during an interview with Good Morning America last month.
“It’s no different from a cis woman who gets a place on a travel team or gets a scholarship. It’s a part of athletics where people compete with each other,” Thomas said. “In fact, this does not deprive cis women of opportunities. Trans women are women, so a scholarship or opportunity is still given to a woman.”
The new policy was approved by 71 percent of the votes at the general congress in Budapest, Hungary. It takes effect on Monday.