Swimming bans transgender athletes from competing, Kieren Perkins on Australia impact

Kieren Perkins, Australian Olympic legend turned top administrator, has issued a stark warning about the swimming ban for transgender athletes.

World swimming body FINA confirmed this week that transgender women will not be allowed to compete in the elite women’s competition.

A day later, rugby league’s top international body announced that transgender athletes would not be allowed to play in the Tests.

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Perkins won two gold medals for Australia during a distinguished career and is now the CEO of the Australian Sports Commission, having served as chairman of Swimming Australia.

He agrees with FINA’s ruling on elite competition, but fears the ruling will have serious effects on transgender swimmers further down the chain.

“FINA has made it clear in their dialogue that they are talking about a very small microcosm, which is the elite (sport),” Perkins told SEN radio.

“What they missed in acknowledging that is that it’s the sport’s billboard, the main focus, and I’m very, very concerned that domestic competitions will accept that decision and operate with that, whatever human carnage it creates on their local, domestic level.

“I read that FINA was talking about ‘the science’ has been proven. What proof? Everything I’ve seen suggests that in fact, we’re not really sure yet.

“When you talk to healthcare professionals who deal directly in this environment, there’s no uncompromising clarity with the science of it all.

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“What disappointed me deeply about this dialogue is that we are sitting here having this very vocal and extreme debate about a part of society that is incredibly marginalized, incredibly misunderstood and already suffering from significant incidences of mental health and suicide.

“FINA made this decision on the basis that it looks like there could be an athlete in the whole world who could potentially, maybe make it happen.

“Meanwhile, transgender participation in sport is among the lowest of any demographic assessed in sport in Australia.”

American college swimmer Lia Thomas is the transgender athlete at the center of this week’s decision.

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