Human Rights Campaign Responds to USA Swimming’s Last-Minute Policy Unfairly Impacting Transgender Swimmers

by Laurel Powell

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, condemned USA Swimming for its abrupt about-face on inclusion of transgender swimmers. USA Swimming’s new policy, released the evening of February 1, 2022, appears to have been done with little consultation with appropriate stakeholders, including transgender athletes, and, among other concerns, would apply adult standards to swimmers as young as thirteen.

USA Swimming’s move yesterday is exactly what happens when the NCAA abdicates its role to ensure fairness for transgender athletes. In what seems to be a last-minute policy change, USA Swimming and the NCAA are changing the rules in the middle of the season for athletes who have worked hard, followed the rules, and just want to swim. There are still more questions than there are answers, but one thing is clear -- transgender girls & women will be unfairly impacted by this new policy. We urge the NCAA to rethink its role in ensuring fairness for all student athletes -- including transgender women -- to participate in sports free from discrimination, abuse and harassment.

By caving to the avalanche of ill-informed, prejudiced attacks targeted at one particular transgender swimmer, USA Swimming has created a deeply unequitable policy that could disqualify current transgender athletes who worked tirelessly to comply with rules that were already in place, as well as those who want to play in the future. This flawed, discriminatory policy is the direct consequence of the NCAA stepping back from its responsibility to protect all student athletes - including transgender people - from discrimination. In the end, the responsibility and the blame is theirs.

Joni Madison, Interim President of the Human Rights Campaign

In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender people. For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit

The Human Rights Campaign is the United States’ largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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