Swim England bans transgender women athletes
Just two weeks after World Athletics banned transgender women from competing in track and field, another organization has pulled the plug on trans women competing in swim meets with other women.
Swim England updated its “Transgender and Nonbinary Competition Policy” Monday to reflect that starting on Sept. 1, only cisgender women will be able to take part on so-called “female teams,” and a new “open” category will be created for nonbinary and trans women swimmers and anyone else who wants to compete outside of the binary, cisgender-based categories.
The organization stated, “Swim England believes that the restriction of certain competition to birth sex females to be justified and proportionate in the pursuit of fair competition,” and claims its new policy “has inclusion and fairness at its very heart,” but trans inclusion advocates criticized the move as exclusionary and disappointing.
“It is widely recognized that fairness of competition must be protected and Swim England believes the creation of open and female categories is the best way to achieve this,” officials wrote in a statement on the group’s website. “The updated policy ensures there are entry-level competitive opportunities for transgender people to participate in the majority of our disciplines within their gender identity.”
But while those entry-level chances will provide a provision for athletes to self-ID at these low-level “unlicensed” events, such as recreational races, timings and scores posted at these events will not be applicable to Swim England rankings or eligible as records. Which is, of course, the point of competitive swimming.
American trans man and trailblazing swimmer Schuyler Bailar called the new policy “transphobic,” noting that by setting an age limit of 12 to have transitioned or gone on puberty blockers, Swim England has effectively excluded all trans women and girls.
“This is not about preserving fairness, this is not about protecting women’s sports, it is about excluding trans people,” he said in a social media post.
“This is transphobia incarnate and it has to stop,” said Schuyler, who was the first out trans swimmer in NCAA Division I.
“While trans kids can play authentically in non-competitive environments, the policy fundamentally denies trans girls the right to compete as themselves,” said the British trans support outfit,