Trans swimmers set to have their own category

World Aquatics banned transgender from participating in the international women's competition. The president of the organization explained that the decision is to protect the athletes.

World Aquatics, the organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee to regulate international competitions in aquatic sports, informed that transgender people will be able to compete in an "open category," which will be created. In June 2022, the body banned trans people from participating in women's international competition. More than 70% of World Aquatics member federations voted in favor of the measure.

The organization's chairman, Husain Al-Musallam, explained that the event will be held in the future. However, he did not give details of the dates on which it will come into effect, although the media anticipate that it could be this year.

"This is a very complex issue. But I am delighted to tell you today that we are now making plans for the first test of an open category, and we look forward to confirming all the details soon," Al-Musallam said in a statement carried by Associated Press during the World Aquatic Congress in the city of Fukuoka, in southwestern Japan.

He added:

"We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive equity in our events, especially the women's category in competitions," the organization's president maintained.

The debate about transgender participation in women's competitions intensified after U.S. swimmer Lia Thomas won the women's 500 meter freestyle at the National Collegiate Athletic Association championships in Atlanta, becoming the first transgender to claim a national swimming title. Her teammates at the University of Pennsylvania were not happy with the decision and claimed that Thomas had an advantage in the competition. They also indicated that they did not feel comfortable in the locker room when Thomas was there.

"My teammates and I were forced to undress in the presence of Lia, a six-feet-four-inch tall biological man fully-intact with male genitalia, 18 times per week. Some girls opted to change in bathroom stalls, and others used the family bathroom to avoid this. When we tried to voice our concern to the Athletic Department, we were told that Lia swimming and being in our locker room was non-negotiable, and we were offered psychological services to attempt to re-educate us to become comfortable with the idea of undressing in front of a male," said  Paula Scanlan, one of her teammates.