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Gold medalist Kaylee McKeown of Australia poses during ceremonies at the women's 100m backstroke finals at the World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Swimming Federation Announces Trans Solution to Protect Female Athletes

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World Aquatics, the international swimming federation recognized by the International Olympic Committee for administering international competitions in water sports, has followed through on a promise to set up an "open category" for transgender swimmers. 

The federation's governing body announced plans in June of 2022 to create such a category for competitions. 

World Aquatics (formerly FINA) president Husain Al-Musallam said the move would take place in the future among other races but gave no details. Reports suggest it could be this year.

"This is a very complex topic," Al-Musallam said in a speech at the World Aquatics Congress held last week in the southwestern Japanese city of Fukuoka. "But I am delighted to tell you today that we are now making plans for the first trial of an open category, and we hope to be able to confirm all the details soon."

"Our sport must be open to everybody," he said.

slider img 2World Aquatics banned transgender competitors last year from major events like the Olympics and world championships to protect fairness in women's swimming competitions. 

"It was very important that we protected fair competition for our female athletes," Al-Musallam said. "But you have heard me say many times there should be no discrimination. Nobody should be excluded from our competitions."

The move comes after the World Swimming Coaches Association (WSCA) urged the WA to create a separate division due to men's physiological dominance over female athletes and to ensure fairness. 

As CBN News has reported, controversy over biological men competing in women's sports has been a hot-button issue for years due to concerns over competitive fairness. 

CBN News and CBN's Faithwire have extensively reported on the increase of biological males who are dominating girls' athletic competitions after being allowed to compete as females.

Lia Thomas, a transgender collegiate swimmer with the University of Pennsylvania, has become the face of the debate over sports and gender identity. 

Thomas competed for three seasons as Will Thomas on the UPenn men's swimming team but started competing on the women's team last fall. He began taking hormone replacement therapy to lower his testosterone in May of 2019. 

Other international sports bodies have also enacted similar rules banning trans athletes. As CBN News reported in April of 2022, the World Boxing Council (WBC) banned transgender athletes from competing in the sport. 

In a statement at the time, the organization said boxing matches could only occur "between two equally matched competitors."  

"The WBC advocates for two equally skilled and matched athletes competing in the cage or ring, on a level playing field and to keep matches fair, competitive, entertaining, and most importantly safe for all combatants," the statement continued. "At present level of scientific knowledge, the WBC consensus is that allowing transgender athletes to compete raises serious health and safety concerns."

In addition, World Athletics (WA), the governing body for track and field competitions, announced in March that transgender women who went through male puberty can no longer compete in women's events at international competitions, according to Science.

WA said its rules prioritized fairness and "integrity of female competition." The organization's president, Sebastian Coe, said, "We will be guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage which will inevitably develop over the coming years."

Just last month, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the regulatory organization of the sport of cycling banned transgender cyclists from participating in women's racing events. 

The UCI said it was necessary to "ensure equal opportunities," according to NBC News

"Given the current state of scientific knowledge, it is also impossible to rule out the possibility that biomechanical factors such as the shape and arrangement of the bones in their limbs may constitute a lasting advantage for female transgender athletes," the UCI added.

As CBN News reported, transgender cyclist Austin Killips won the women's division of the prestigious Tour of the Gila race in New Mexico by nearly a minute and a half. This led several present and former female athletes to call out the UCI for allowing trans athletes to compete against biological women.  

USA Powerlifting also banned trans males from its women's competitions, citing that "significant advantages are had, including but not limited to increased body and muscle mass, bone density, bone structure, and connective tissue.  These advantages are not eliminated by reduction of serum androgens such as testosterone yielding a potential advantage in strength sports such as powerlifting."

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At least 22 states have imposed similar protections for girls, blocking trans athletes from competitions at the Kindergarten through high school or collegiate levels. 

Recent polling shows that most Americans agree. As CBN News reported in June, a Gallup Poll revealed the American public strongly opposes allowing transgender females – biological males who transition to female – to compete in women's and girls' sports events.

Sixty-nine percent say trans athletes should only be allowed to compete on teams that match their birth gender, and only 26 percent say athletes should be permitted to play on teams of their new gender identity.

The poll showed that opposition has grown over the last two years to trans athletes playing on teams of their new gender.

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of