International sports governing body FINA made the announcement to ban male-to-female transgender people from competing in women’s events, effective from June 20, 2022.
Swimming WA inclusion coordinator Adam Popham says his aim is to ensure inclusion for all groups professionally and the ban should never negatively impact at a community level.
“As a person with a twin brother who made it to the Paralympics, I can understand the frustration at an elite end, but I think it is important to distinguish between elite and community,” he says.
He says Swimming WA is working toward being more inclusive to the transgender community, educating staff on initiatives to make every person comfortable and accounted for. This includes recognising pronouns and providing support when needed.
In FINA’s announcement, they say unless the person had completed a transition from male to female before the age of 12, they would no longer allowed to compete.
Swimming WA’s Adam Popham. Video: Rachelle Grosse.
“The graph demonstrated that as soon as they [a male to female transgender person] reach thirteen, it is above the level of what a woman can achieve physically,” Mr Popham says.
While FINA says it is working to establish an ‘open’ category for those who don’t fit into either gender categories, there are concerns it will only create more segregation.
The Perth Sea Dragons Artistic Synchronised Swimming Team describes themselves as LGBTQIA+ friendly.
Founder Gary Whitney says FINA’s view is out of touch, and it needs to talk to more diverse communities to come up with better ways to avoid segregation.
“It’s something they really need to look at and come up with a better alternative than to say it’s too hard,” he says.
“We are a small group so we don’t want to turn people away and we don’t want anyone to have a bad experience.”
Swimming WA says it is still awaiting an official ruling from FINA, so the ban doesn’t yet apply to Australian swimming events.