USA Swimming Releases New Transgender Athlete Policy; Evidence of Mitigation Required


USA Swimming Releases New Transgender Athlete Policy; Evidence of Mitigation Required

In response to the growing awareness regarding gender inclusion and equity, USA Swimming has released a new policy concerning the topic.

This issue of transgender women competing in women’s sports has continued to grow in the past few months, mostly surrounding Penn swimmer Lia Thomas, a transgender athlete who competed for the Penn men’s team for three years before completing the required one year of “testosterone supression treatment” in order to be eligible to compete as a female.

While Thomas has continued to follow all of the rules, many have argued that her situation goes against equity in women’s competition. As a result, USA Swimming drafted new guidelines.

Here is what USA Swimming released as its policy:

Following several months of internal work, critical stakeholder discussions, and medical and legal review, and in light of updated information regarding the Fédération Internationale de Natation’s (FINA) policy development, USA Swimming has elected to release its Athlete Inclusion, Competitive Equity and Eligibility Policy.

This policy, effective immediately, is applicable only to USA Swimming athlete members and approved elite events as defined in the policy and will remain in place until the release of an elite policy by FINA.

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USA Swimming has and will continue to champion gender equity and the inclusivity of all cisgender and transgender women and their rights to participate in sport, while also fervently supporting competitive equity at elite levels of competition.

The development of the elite policy therefore acknowledges a competitive difference in the male and female categories and the disadvantages this presents in elite head-to-head competition. This is supported by statistical data that shows that the top-ranked female in 2021, on average, would be ranked 536th across all short course yards (25 yards) male events in the country and 326th across all long course meters (50 meters) male events in the country, among USA Swimming members. The policy therefore supports the need for competitive equity at the most elite levels of competition.

While recognizing the need for the aforementioned guidelines in elite competition, sport is an important vehicle for positive physical and mental health, and, for this reason, USA Swimming remains steadfast in its continued commitment to greater inclusivity at the non-elite levels.

In order to balance these two priorities, specific guidelines have been developed for both non-elite and elite athletes and elite events. At the non-elite level, an inclusive process has been established by which an athlete can elect to change their competition category in order for them to experience the sport of swimming in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity and expression. At the elite level, a policy has been created for transgender athlete participation in the U.S. that relies on science and medical evidence-based methods to provide a level-playing field for elite cisgender women, and to mitigate the advantages associated with male puberty and physiology. Elite athletes shall include any athlete who has achieved a time standard and desires to participate in elite events as defined in the policy.

The elite athlete policy will be implemented by a decision-making panel comprised of three independent medical experts and eligibility criteria will consist of:

  • Evidence that the prior physical development of the athlete as a male, as mitigated by any medical intervention, does not give the athlete a competitive advantage over the athlete’s cisgender female competitors.
  • Evidence that the concentration of testosterone in the athlete’s serum has been less than 5 nmol/L (as measured by liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry) continuously for a period of at least thirty-six (36) months before the date of application.

Athletes will need to abide by USA Swimming’s Athlete Inclusion, Competitive Equity and Eligibility Policy to be eligible to set USA Swimming National Age-Group Records in the 13-14 age group and above or to be eligible to set an American Record, per the USA Swimming Rules & Regulations, in a competition category which is different than the gender assigned to the athlete at birth.

USA Swimming’s policy is not applicable to non-USA Swimming athlete members nor non-approved Elite events, as defined in the policy.

USA Swimming will continue to learn and to evaluate its policy, with a focus on balancing inclusion and equity, and will continue to work closely with FINA on global standards.

The complete policy, for both elite and non-elite athletes, which is part of the USA Swimming Operating Policy Manual, is available online at

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2 years ago

I guess the irony is lost on the powers-that-be at USA Swimming. On one hand they declare that “sport is an important vehicle for positive physical and mental health” while on the other, accommodating those who chemically alter their natural biology, in some cases mutilating themselves physiologically, and who, according to Dr. Paul McHugh, the former Psychiatrist in Chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, are suffering from mental illness. And this is an opinion, not unique to him.

Straddling a fence is always a precarious position that doesn’t usually end well. It may take years or even decades to be fully manifest, but I would not be surprised at all if this policy effectively serves to suppress or even kill women’s elite swimming, as girls competing against boys, who think they are girls, in age group swimming, will give up the sport out of discouragement and miss out on the developmental opportunities that might propel them into the elite category. This new policy is an accommodation to the spirit of the age and a denial of objective realty.

Marian Berkowitz
Marian Berkowitz
2 years ago
Reply to  Chuck

When are we going to get down to the genetic level and acknowledge that no xy male will ever be able to become an xx female? Every cell in the body reflects this positive. Why have we gone from a fact-based mindset to wishful thinking. Just because you would like it to be, does not make it so.

2 years ago

You are going to destroy biological women sports competition. You cannot change the man genetic to a women by giving injection and blood counts etc… It’s unfair PERIOD to women in sports.

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