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Swim England announces open category for transgender athletes

Swim England announces open category for transgender athletes
© Reuters
Swim England announces the creation of an open category for transgender and non-binary athletes, who are now banned from competing in women's events.

Swim England has announced the creation of an open category for transgender athletes, who will not be allowed to compete in female races.

The policy, which will come into effect from September 1, has been made with "inclusion and fairness at its very heart", the governing body said.

Back in June, FINA - swimming's world governing body - adopted a similar approach, banning transgender athletes from female events if they had gone through any process of male puberty.

Transgender athletes have instead been permitted to race in 'open' events at international level, and Swim England has now followed suit nine months down the line.

As well as transgender swimmers, non-binary athletes and "any competitor not eligible for the female category" can also take part in open events in England.

A statement read: "Swim England's updated transgender and non-binary competition policy has inclusion and fairness at its very heart. In order for all aquatic disciplines to be enjoyed as sport, there must be inclusive opportunities for transgender participants to compete.

"However, it is widely recognised that fairness of competition must be protected and Swim England believes the creation of open and female categories is the best way to achieve this.

"The updated policy ensures there are entry-level competitive opportunities for transgender people to participate in the majority of our disciplines within their gender identity.

"In order to progress further, however, the Female/Open categories are utilised as a means to protect fair competition within the sporting pathway.

"Peer-reviewed examples confirm the general consensus that post-puberty transgender females retain a biological level of performance advantage post-transition.

"Whilst Swim England's existing policy regarding the use of hormonal therapy was found to be effective at reducing performance advantage, it was insufficient to negate it completely and trans females therefore likely retain an advantage over their cisgender peers.

"As a result, Swim England believes that the restriction of certain competition to birth sex females to be justified and proportionate in the pursuit of fair competition."

Last month, World Athletics banned transgender competitors from racing in female events, while British Triathlon also established an open category last July.

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