LGBTIQ+ Health Australia (LHA) is calling on news media to prioritise the voices of trans and gender diverse people and experts in the coverage of the International Swimming Federation’s (FINA) disappointing decision to exclude trans women from elite women’s competitions.
LHA CEO Nicky Bath (she/her) said: “Constant media coverage about trans and gender diverse people is continuing to cause great harm, particularly for trans women. We saw the impact of broad coverage of these issues during the federal election campaign. Conversations need to be led by experts in appropriate forums with care and understanding and with trans and gender diverse communities.” she said.
Below are statements from Transgender Victoria, The Gender Centre and A Gender Agenda, LHA full members and key bodies in Victoria, NSW and the ACT representing trans and gender diverse people.
Statement attributable to Mama Alto, CEO of Transgender Victoria
“The FINA (International Swimming Federation) decision is disappointing in setting a precedent for exclusion of transgender women.
In terms of how FINA’s decision creates a precedent, whilst FINA has now made this decision for elite sports competitions, it is vital that community sports takes a different approach. This decision is made in the context of elite, professional, global competition - such as at Olympic level. For community sports, it’s about so much more than just competition: it’s about participation, inclusion, community-building, health and wellbeing. So it is essential that community sports do not follow this exclusive precedent (which is designed for elite level competition).
In terms of how FINA’s decision impacts elite professional competitions, FINA’s decision (to exclude transgender women if they have “experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later”) will actually create further structural inequalities. Access to puberty blockers at this age during a gender transition or affirmation journey is a difficult and inaccessible process, with inconsistencies around the world. This decision will create inequality, disadvantage and barriers to trans people based on that access - based on their financial, geographic and sociopolitical situation - and that’s a tragic outcome.
Ultimately, this decision impacts the inclusion - and hence, safety, dignity and equality - of transgender people."
Please direct media inquiries to: [email protected]
Statement attributable to Eloise Brook, Health and Communications Manager at The Gender Centre, NSW
The Gender Centre expresses strong disappointment in the decision by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to effectively exclude trans women from elite women’s competition.
This new policy does not seem to be based on evidence, but rather as a reaction to a trans woman expressing her hopes of becoming an Olympic athlete.
Trans athlete Lia Thomas said in an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America broadcast on 31 May that she hopes to compete in the Olympics trials.
FINA’s ruling can’t be about trans women breaking swimming records, because the only person globally that can be used as an example is Lia Thomas. Across the 2022 NCAA season, 27 all-time NCAA records were broken, and none of them were broken by Lia Thomas.
According to the Independent Thomas was the eighth fastest out of 56 in the 500-yard race, 55th out of 56th in the 100-yard race, and 31st out of 56 for the 200-yard race when the top competitors over the last six years in the NCAA competition are compared.
Lia Thomas was not and is not a threat to women’s sport. Trans women are not a threat to women’s sport.
If it’s not about swimming records, or winning competitions, then it can only be about excluding trans women.
(The statistics above are from: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/lia-thomas-trans-swimmer-ron-desantis-b2091218.html)
Statement Attributable to Sel Cooper, Executive Director of A Gender Agenda, ACT
“We are incredibly disappointed in this response from FINA. As per the response from Eloise, there is no scientific basis for this decision, and as noted Lia Thomas’ times were not the fastest over a number of years, it's just that the media have taken hold this year.
We would request that the Federal Government fund an independent enquiry into the impacts of hormone treatment on transgender athletes to provide scientific evidence that can be sighted moving forward, as we are concerned that other sporting codes would follow this pattern using misinformation to support their decision.
Also, we call on swimming Australia to request that FINA review their decision, given that a number of member countries openly discriminate or don't accept transgender individuals, which means that any decision would already be stacked against transgender athletes.”
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