Human Rights Campaign Slams Discriminatory FINA Policy Banning Transgender Swimmers

by Meghan Olson

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, condemned swimming's international governing body, FINA, for its new policy to ban transgender women from participating in swimming competitions. The new policy from FINA, released on Sunday, June 19, 2022, comes at a time when transgender people are under attack in states across the country. It requires that transgender swimmers complete their transition by the age of 12 — an unrealistic and effectively impossible requirement especially as some states, including Alabama and Arkansas, are attempting to ban transgender youth from accessing the very same age-appropriate, medically necessary gender-affirming care that would allow them to comply with this policy.

This sudden and discriminatory decision is a blatant attack on transgender athletes who have worked to comply with longstanding policies that have allowed them to participate for years without issue. This policy is an example of swimming organizations caving to the avalanche of ill-informed, prejudiced attacks targeted at one particular transgender swimmer. We urge the FINA to rethink its policy and ensure inclusion for all athletes -- including transgender women – and allow them to participate in sports free from discrimination, abuse and harassment.

To the young athletes who may be disheartened by this policy, know that we know and believe that every young person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and that transgender kids, like their friends, deserve the same chances to learn sportsmanship, self-discipline, and teamwork, and to build a sense of belonging with their peers.”

Joni Madison, Human Rights Campaign Interim President

Transgender and non-binary athletes, especially transgender female athletes, are under attack by politicians at all levels of government, as well as in the media. 2021 officially surpassed 2015 as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in recent history, with 27 anti-LGBTQ+ bills enacted. This year is on track to surpass 2021 in anti-transgender legislation filed, with more than 75 bills that directly target transgender girls and women in sports and would prevent them from playing on the team that aligns with their gender identity.

These attacks on transgender youth generally, and transgender athletes specifically, are fueled by discrimination, not facts. These bills represent a cruel effort to further stigmatize and discriminate against LGBTQ+ people across the country, specifically, transgender youth who simply want to live as their true selves and grow into who they are.

For more information, please visit, HRC’s Transgender and Non-Binary People FAQ, HRC’s Brief Guide to Getting Transgender Coverage Right and HRC’s guide to Get the Facts about Transgender & Non-Binary Athletes.

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