Sports

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


Australian Olympic legend-turned top administrator, Kieren Perkins, has issued a dire warning over swimming’s ban on transgender athletes.

World swim body FINA this week confirmed transgender women will not be permitted to compete in elite women’s competition.

A day later, rugby league’s peak international body announced transgender athletes will not be permitted to play Tests.

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Perkins won two gold medals for Australia during a stellar career, and is now the Australian Sports Commission’s CEO, having previously acted as president of Swimming Australia.

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

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

“What they have missed in acknowledging that is that it is the billboard for sport, the main focus, and I get very, very concerned that domestic competitions will accept that ruling and run with that regardless of the human carnage it creates at their local, domestic level.

“I read FINA talking about ‘the science’ has been proved. What proof? Everything that I have seen suggests that, actually, we’re not really sure yet.

“When you talk to medical professionals who are dealing directly in this environment, there isn’t clarity without compromise with the science of it all.

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“The thing that has disappointed me deeply in this dialogue is we sit here having this very vocal and extreme debate about a section of society that is incredibly marginalised, incredibly misunderstood and already suffers from significant incidences of mental health and suicide.

“FINA has made this determination on the basis that it looks like there could be one athlete in the entire globe who might potentially, maybe get there.

“In the meantime, transgender participation in sport is among the lowest of all demographics that are assessed in sport in Australia.”

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

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