USA Swimming Backflips on Transgender Issues

USA Swimming
Getty Images/Buda Mendes

USA Swimming has announced that it will adopt the transgender athlete policies implemented by the International Olympic Committee.

The swimming authority’s House of Delegates recently voted to allow transgender swimmers to compete in the category of their chosen gender as detailed in the IOC’s policies, swimming website Swim Swam reported.

The new rules would also allow for opponents to protest a transgender athlete’s chosen status. A National Eligibility Appeal Panel would hear any such protests. But the transgender athlete would be allowed to continue competing during the panel’s deliberations.

The organization will “recognize standards (including national age-group records) set by transgender age group swimmers in their stated gender category.” Transgender swimmers must also meet medical requirements outlined by the USADA’s drug-testing pool and the US and International Olympic Committee’s medical criteria.

USA Swimming noted that it would continue to review its process for adjustments or to respond to protests against the policy.

The IOC itself also found resistance to its transgender rules. Last year it put some changes to the policy on hold because its scientific and medical experts could not agree on the allowed levels of testosterone in transgender athletes.

The current guidelines issued in 2015 maintain that men claiming to be transgender women can compete in the female categories even if they have not completed the transformational surgery, but only if their testosterone level measures below ten nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months before competing.

While some of the IOC’s experts insisted that the current requirements could be lowered further without creating an unfair playing field, others are pointing to recent research which claims that testosterone levels really have little effect on a transgender woman’s biologically male muscle strength.

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