Australian swim star endorses FINA’s ‘Gender Inclusion Policy’

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Cate Campbell, a four-time Olympic swimming gold medalist for Australia, supported FINA’s new guidelines on the participation of transgender athletes on Monday.

Speaking to the FINA Congress, Campbell said the segregation of gender categories in swimming is one of the only reasons women can be considered equal in sport. She said removing the distinction “would be to the detriment of female athletes everywhere”.

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Team Australia's Cate Campbell reacts after winning the gold medal and breaking the Olympic record for the Women's 4 x 100m Individual Medley Relay Final during the ninth day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Center on August 01, 2021 in Tokyo , Japan.

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

“We see you, appreciate you and accept you. However, my role is also to stand up here after we asked our world governing body, FINA, to investigate, debate 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 can hurt, anger and potentially alienate people from an already marginalized trans community.”

She said she thought about what she was going to say and concluded that no matter what she said on the subject, it would “upset” people.

“However, I ask everyone to take a breath, absorb before reacting. Listen to the science and the experts. Listen to the people standing up here telling you how difficult it has been to balance inclusion and fairness,” she added. “That men and women are physiologically different cannot be denied. We are only now beginning to explore and understand the origins of these physiological differences and the long-term effects of exposure to different hormones.

FINA MEDICAL OFFICIAL HOPES TRANSGENDER ATHLETE POLICIES WILL BE A 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 Olympics 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 Olympics on August 1, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
(Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

“Women who have fought long and hard to be included in sport and seen as equals can only do so because of the distinction between gender categories.

The “Gender Inclusion Policy” only allows swimmers who switched before the age of 12 to compete in women’s events. FINA members voted 71.5% in favor of the new policy. The verdicts came into effect on Monday.

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

The Australian Olympic Committee also supported FINA’s decision.

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

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

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