The International Swimming Federation voted over the weekend to ban transgender athletes from swimming in competitions with women if they have undergone male puberty. They will open a new category called “open” category for these athletes.
The rules about puberty state that a swimmer must not have undergone “any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 (of puberty) or before age 12.”
Trans rights groups spoke out against this ruling pointing out that trans women produce about the same amount of testosterone after going through hormone therapy. But hormones are not the only issue. It is also about the fact that the post-pubescent male body has a larger cardiovascular system, 40% more upper body muscle mass, more fast-twitch fiber and more oxygenated blood.
Will this make swimming more fair for biological female athletes to compete? Yes I believe it will. Will the “open” category be fair? Most likely not. That seems like a nightmare to define. But one more question: Why aren’t trans men also addressed in this ruling? Surely this can’t be a rule that is just about winning, right?