Transgender swimmer Leah Thomas loses the challenge that prevented her from participating in women’s swimming races

Transgender swimmer Leah Thomas has lost her challenge to Switzerland’s Court of Arbitration for Sport – the world’s highest court for sporting integrity – to overturn World Aquatics Federation rules barring transgender women from competing in women’s divisions. The judge ruled that Thomas did not have standing to bring the case.

World Aquatics, which sets the rules that define elite competitions, including the Olympic Games, introduced a new gender policy in June 2022, allowing transgender women to compete in women’s events only if they transitioned before the age of 12 or before one of the early stages of puberty. . The ruling excludes transgender women who have reached puberty, like Thomas, from participating in women’s races.

Thomas began her transition using hormone replacement therapy in May 2019. She attended the University of Pennsylvania and swam on the men’s team from the 2017-18 to 2019-20 seasons. By 2021, Thomas had met the NCAA hormone therapy requirement to swim on the Penn women’s team and did so for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons.

Thomas became the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I title when she won the women’s 500-yard freestyle in March 2022. She said she has ambitions to compete in the Olympics.

World Aquatics has introduced an “open” category for athletes who were not assigned female at birth. But he said the department did not get any input At the first event of the 2023 FINA World Cup in Berlin in October.

In challenging Thomas v CAS, it sought an order from the court declaring that “the impugned provisions are unlawful, void and of no force or effect”, The Court of Arbitration for Sport said in a statement On January 26, she restated her position.

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Thomas’ representative, Tyr LLC in Toronto, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Thomas described the CAS decision as “extremely disappointing” in a statement issued by her legal team, according to the British newspaper “Daily Mail”. Sports ally.

“Blanket bans that prevent trans women from competing are discriminatory and deprive us of valuable sporting opportunities that are fundamental to our identities,” she said. “The CAS decision should be seen as a call to action for all trans athletes to continue fighting for our dignity and human rights.”

Swimming is one of many sports implementing policies for transgender athletes amid widespread debate over inclusion and competitive fairness. Last year, the governing bodies of track and field as well as cycling ruled that transgender women could not compete in women’s events. The International Cycling Union made its decision last July, after American Austin Killes became the first openly transgender woman to win a cycling event.

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(Photo: Mike Comer/NCAA Images via Getty Images)

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