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Transgender swimmers must prove childhood transition

US trans swimmer Lia Thomas  could compete in Australia, but only if her testosterone levels were low.

US trans swimmer Lia Thomas could compete in Australia, but only if her testosterone levels were low. Photo: Getty

Transgender swimmers will be required to prove they did not go through puberty as a male before transitioning to a female, under new rules set by the peak body for the sport.

Swimming’s world governing body, Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA), has voted to restrict the participation of transgender athletes in elite women’s competitions.

The organisation has also created a working group to establish an “open” category for them in some events as part of its new policy.

Swimming body's historic ruling on transgender athletes

The decision was made during FINA’s extraordinary general congress on the sidelines of the world championships in Budapest, Hungary, on Sunday night (local time) after members heard a report from a transgender task force comprising leading medical, legal and sports figures.

The policy will require transgender competitors to have completed their transition by the age of 12 if they are allowed to compete in women’s competitions.

AAP reported the policy was passed with a roughly 71 per cent majority after it was put to the members of 152 national federations with voting rights who had gathered for the congress at the Puskas Arena.

Transgender rights have become a major talking point as sports seek to balance inclusivity while ensuring there is no unfair advantage.

The debate intensified after University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas became the first transgender NCAA champion in Division I history after winning the women’s 500-yard freestyle earlier this year.

It followed New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard becoming the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo last year.

-with AAP

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