The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has joined other international sports bodies, such as the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), World Athletics, World Netball, etc., in discussing transgender athlete participation at the elite stages.
The various organisations will review current transgender athletes' inclusion policies with deliberations from the International Olympics Committee as informed by an FIH representative on Wednesday, June 22.
Why Is The Review Happening?
This decision to review comes after International Swimming Federation (FINA) voted to restrict transgender athletes' participation in women's groups, triggered by the victory of Lia Thomas, the first transgender to compete and win the national championship by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), USA.
This decision has been the strictest by any international Olympic body, as reported by Sportstar.
What Triggered The Debate?
Transgender athletes have always been the main focus of debate in sports, but it escalated after Lia Thomas won the women's 500-yard freestyle swimming NCAA Division-I championship this year. In light of this development, many colleges and other athletes raised concerns about 'fairness'.
FINA conducted a vote on June 19, 2022, and applied a new eligibility rule to limit the participation of transgender athletes. It stated that male-to-female transgender sportspersons who have experienced male puberty after 12 years of age or the Tanner Stage-two would be not allowed to participate in women's groupings, as cited in Reuters.
Reaction From The Sports Fraternity
One of the LGBT rights groups' Athlete Ally' commented that the new criteria under FINA are 'harmful' and 'discriminatory'. Transgender cyclist Veronica Ivy has even called it 'unscientific'.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said, "My responsibility is to protect the integrity of women's sport, and we take that very seriously, and if it means that we have to make adjustments to protocols going forward, we will," as reported by The Scroll.
FINA has set up a working committee to explore the possibility of creating an 'open category' to make the sport more accessible and inclusive for the transgender community in elite competitions.