Australian swimming star backs FINA’s ‘gender inclusion policy’

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Cate Campbell, a four-time Olympic swimming gold medalist for Australia, backed FINA’s new policies regarding transgender athlete participation on Monday.

In a speech to FINA’s congress, Campbell said the separation of the gender categories in swimming is one of the only reasons why women can be seen as equals in the sport. She said removing the distinction “would be to the detriment of female athletes everywhere.”

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Cate Campbell of Team Australia reacts after winning the gold medal and breaking the Olympic record for the Women’s 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final on day nine of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Center on August 01, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
(Al Bello/Getty Images)

“We see you, value you and accept you. My role; however, is also to stand up here, having asked our world governing body, FINA, to investigate, deliberate and uphold the cornerstone of fairness in elite women’s competition,” she said , via The Guardian. “And it pains me that this part of my role, may injure, infuriate and potentially alienate people from an already-marginalized trans community.”

She said she had thought about what she was going to say and came to the conclusion that no matter what she said on the topic it would “anger” people.

“However, I am asking everyone to take a breath, to absorb before reacting. Listen to the science and experts. Listen to the people who stand up here and tell you how difficult it has been to reconcile inclusion and fairness,” she added. “That men and women are physiologically different cannot be disputed. We are only now beginning to explore and understand the origins of these physiological differences and the lasting effects of exposure to differing hormones.

FINA MEDICAL OFFICIAL HOPES TRANSGENDER-ATHLETE POLICIES ARE MODEL FOR OTHER SPORTS

Cate Campbell of Australia after the 4x100m medley relay gold medal presentation during the Swimming Finals at the Tokyo Aquatic Center at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games on August 1, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

Cate Campbell of Australia after the 4x100m medley relay gold medal presentation during the Swimming Finals at the Tokyo Aquatic Center at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games on August 1, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
(Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

“Women, who have fought long and hard to be included and seen as equals in sport, can only do so because of the gender category distinction. To remove that distinction would be to the detriment of female athletes everywhere.”

The “gender inclusion policy” will only permit swimmers who transitioned before the age of 12 to compete in women’s events. FINA members voted 71.5% in favor of the new policies. The rulings went into effect Monday.

FINA set specific eligibility requirements in a 24-page policy. There was also a proposal for a new “open competition policy.” The organization said it was setting up “a new working group that will spend the next six months looking at the most effective ways to set up this new category.”

The Australian Olympic Committee also backed FINA’s decision.

A logo of the is the international governing body of swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and open water swimming, FINA is displayed during the FINA World Championships in Rome on July 25, 2009.

A logo of the is the international governing body of swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and open water swimming, FINA is displayed during the FINA World Championships in Rome on July 25, 2009.
(MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images)

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“While inclusivity must be respected, fairness in competition is a core value of sport,” an Australian Olympic Committee spokesman told Reuters. “FINA has made a decision based on the circumstances in the sport of swimming to achieve that balance.”

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