World Aquatics announces 'open category' to include trans swimmers: 'Our sport must be for everyone'

World Athletics updated its policy for transgender athletes in 2022

The international governing body for swimming announced Tuesday that an "open category" for transgender athletes is in the works, more than a year after a new policy effectively banned trans women from competing in women’s events. 

Speaking at the World Aquatics Congress in Fukuoka, Japan, president Husain Al-Musallam announced that the committee established following the June 2022 policy change has worked towards its goal of creating a category meant to include trans athletes.

world aquatics announces open category to include trans swimmers our sport must be for everyone

Lia Thomas looks on from the podium after finishing fifth in the 200 Yard Freestyle during the 2022 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championship at the McAuley Aquatic Center on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology on March 18, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Mike Comer/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

"It was very important that we protected fair competition for our female athletes," Al-Musallam said Tuesday. 


"But you have heard me say many times that there should be no discrimination. Nobody should be excluded from our competitions." 

Al-Musallam did not offer any further details about when the open category might be introduced into competition, but said that details will "soon" be released. 

"This is a very complex topic, but I am delighted to tell you today that we are now making plans for the first trial of an open category, and we hope to be able to confirm all the details soon." 

world aquatics announces open category to include trans swimmers our sport must be for everyone

Captain Husain Al-Musallam, World Aquatics President speaks during the Opening Ceremony for the Fukuoka 2023 World Aquatics Championships at Boat Race Fukuoka on July 14, 2023 in Fukuoka, Japan.  (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

"Our sport must be for everyone." 


World Aquatics, previously known as FINA before its name change was announced in December, updated its policy for transgender athletes in June 2022 to ban any biological male athletes from competing in women’s events unless they transitioned by the age of 12.

"We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions," Al-Musallam said in a statement at the time. 

world aquatics announces open category to include trans swimmers our sport must be for everyone

USA's Katie Ledecky celebrates after victory in the final of the women's 1500m freestyle swimming event during the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka on July 25, 2023.  (MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP via Getty Images)

The policy change was spurred by the IOC’s guidelines and recommendation in November 2021 that all international federations develop their own sport-specific eligibility criteria for the women’s competition category.

World Athletics announcement follows the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announcement from earlier this month that trans cyclists will now be banned from competing in all international women’s events if they "transitioned after (male) puberty." 

The decision followed a July 5 meeting, when the governing body found that the current "state of scientific knowledge" can not guarantee that any physical advantage would be eliminated after undergoing hormone therapy treatments.

Paulina Dedaj is a Sports Reporter for Fox News Digital.

Authored by Paulina Dedaj via FoxNews July 25th 2023