Fina’s policy on trans women in swimming is based on science, facts and human rights

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Chris Mosier claims that the international swimming federation’s new policy, Fina, “is the biggest ban on trans participation in sport to date” (As elite sports rethink trans participation, our only demand is justice, June 29). This is simply wrong. Fina’s policy outlines a commitment to exploring additional open categories, along with eligibility for all athletes based on biological sex rather than gender identity, “regardless of legal gender, gender identity or gender expression.”

Related: Opening the debate on the abolition of legal sex and gender status | Letters

This already happens. Many trans men and non-binary athletes, including swimmer Iszac Henig at the NCAA Championships, and Quinn and Alana Smith at the Tokyo Olympics, remain in the women’s divisions as they would not be competitive in the men’s or open divisions. This highlights the problem with Mosier’s preferred category solution, which would asymmetrically benefit trans women, giving them a 10% to 30% advantage minimally affected by testosterone suppression, at the expense of all female athletes, including trans men and non-binary athletes.

Mosier asserts that Fina’s policy is “not based on science, facts, or human rights,” and yet explicitly based on all three. He clearly describes FINA’s “core commitment to equal opportunity for male and female athletes” and “equitable representation of athletes of both biological sexes in its programs and competitions.” Equality between the sexes is a universal and fundamental principle of human rights. In most sports, equal opportunity for female athletes requires specific female categories.
Cathy Devin

• Jonathan Liew points out that both biological sex and family support are sources of advantage in sport and asks why they are treated differently (Nadine Dorries offers the illusion of easy choices as trans athletes pay the price, June 28 ). There are two ways to take this. It could mean that those who want to control biological sex (with biological sex classes) should also control family support, harming those with strong family support, for example. Maybe we should put lead weights in Andy Murray’s shoes, because of the great support he gets from his mom, Judy. Or it could mean that since we don’t control family support, we shouldn’t control biological sex. The first horn of this motto is nonsense, so it must mean the second.

If Liew thinks that the male advantage is unimportant for fairness and should not be counted in the categorization of the sport, then he has a coherent argument. But it is an argument in favor of the abolition of women’s sport.
Dr Jon Pike
the open university

• It has been nice to see The Guardian publish op-eds on both sides of the debate on the role of trans women in women’s sport. Finally, it seems that we are allowed to have a debate on this topic, not before time. What is clear from reading several articles, most recently by Jonathan Liew and Mara Yamauchi (Ministers must enforce fairness for women in sport, now June 29), is that the idea of ​​allowing athletes to with male bodies compete against women and girls in sport completely undermines the fundamental principle of sport: fair competition between athletes of the same category. Male puberty gives these athletes insurmountable physical advantages. These are not mitigated by testosterone suppression. This is neither news nor a surprise to anyone who has watched sports of any kind, at any level. This point seemed to be accepted by Liew, even when he argued that trans women should compete in women’s events.

The recent guidelines of Fina, which seem to be heading towards an open category and a female category, are to be welcomed. Trans women competing in an open category is not exclusion. Women who walk away from sport due to the inherent injustice of having to compete against athletes outside of their protected category is. When it comes to sport, we can have equality for female athletes or trans women in the female category. They are mutually exclusive, and the sport must prioritize fairness first.
Liam Garvey
Stuttgart, Germany

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