Aussie Olympic Champ Ian Thorpe Says FINA Transgender-Participation Policy Is Wrong

Ian Thorpe Says FINA Transgender-Participation Policy Is Wrong

Nine-time Olympic medalist Ian Thorpe, who is widely considered the greatest Australian swimmer in history, has spoken out against FINA’s guidelines concerning transgender participation. In a recent interview published by The Guardian, Thorpe – a longtime LGBTQ advocate – indicated that he felt the world governing body’s rules for transgender eligibility were incorrect.

In June, during an Extraordinary General Congress in Budapest, FINA declared that male-to-female transgender athletes may only compete in FINA competitions and set FINA world records in the female category if they have not experienced any part of male puberty. FINA’s decision to institute guidelines was largely connected to Lia Thomas racing and winning a woman’s NCAA title for the University of Pennsylvania following three years as a member of the men’s squad.

Thorpe discussed FINA’s decision in regards to its impact on transgender individuals and their “marginalized” position rather than the impact on fairness in women’s sports.

“This is a very complicated issue, I can’t deny that, and I am personally opposed to the position FINA has taken on this,” Thorpe said. “I am for fairness in sport, but I’m also for equality in sport. And in this instance, they’ve actually got it wrong.”

Thorpe’s position runs counter to that of many in the sport, including fellow Olympic champion Nancy Hogshead-Makar, the CEO of Champion Women. Hogshead-Makar has long been an advocate for transgender participation in a separate category, but not of transgender women in the women’s category due to the benefits reaped from male puberty – such as strength, height and lung capacity.

FINA Transgender Policy

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