Sport

Tom Daley ‘furious’ at swimming and diving bosses over trans athletes ban: ‘It’s not on’

Emma Flint June 27, 2022
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Tom Daley, dressed a pale yellow and black blazer, stands in front of the British LGBT Awards upon arrival

Tom Daley attends the LGBT Awards 2022 at The Brewery on June 24, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)

Olympic gold medalist Tom Daley has passionately spoken out against FINA’s decision to ban trans women from women’s swimming and diving events.

FINA (the International Swimming Federation) has effectively banned trans women from all elite competitions it governs, with only those who have “not experienced male puberty” after the age of 12, or “beyond Tanner Stage 2 [of puberty]” allowed into women’s categories.

Speaking at the British LGBT Awards, Tom Daley told the i that he was “furious” at FINA, which governs diving as well as swimming.

“Anyone that’s told that they can’t compete or can’t do something they love just because of who they are, it’s not on,” he said.

“It’s something I feel really strongly about. Giving trans people the chance to share their side.”

FINA’s ruling means that trans women who began male puberty will not be able to compete in swimming, diving and other elite events.

Spokesperson for FINA president Husain Al-Mussallam, James Pearce, told the Associated Press that the policy is “not saying that people are encouraged to transition by the age of 12”, and rather is intended to dissuade trans women from women’s swimming events.

FINA has proposed an “open” category that would welcome trans women, though it does not have specifics on how this would work.

Officials said the policy was devised after a review of scientific evidence which said trans women who have gone through male puberty still hold “relative performance advantage over biological females”.

However, this has been disputed. Endocrinologist Dr Ada Cheung told Sydney Morning Herald: “We actually don’t know if there’s a biological advantage for transgender women over cisgender women because the science is not clear.

“FINA’s report is really based on a group of people’s opinion, it’s not a gold standard.”

The International Olympics Committee dropped its own testosterone limits on trans women athletes in 2021, stating: “It’s perfectly clear now that performance is not proportional to your endogenous, in-built testosterone.”

Athlete Ally’s director of policy and programmes, Anne Lieberman, has raised concerns the policy will lead to the policing of all women’s bodies.

“The eligibility criteria for the women’s category as it is laid out in the policy polices the bodies of all women, and will not be enforceable without seriously violating the privacy and human rights of any athlete looking to compete in the women’s category,” Lieberman said.

 

While many have come out in support of trans athletes, including Megan Rapinoe, others including Caitlyn Jenner and Sharron Davis have voiced their support for FINA’s policy.

Other sports governing bodies, such as FIFA and World Athletics, are now thinking about reviewing their trans inclusion policies. The UK’s digital, culture, media and sport secretary Nadine Dorries has said she will push for all sports to follow FINA’s lead, with Boris Johnson also backing the policy.

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