World Aquatics, the international governing body for water sports, has announced that the first “open category” races designed to accommodate transgender competitors will take place at a World Cup event in Berlin this October.
The international competition, scheduled to take place from Oct. 6-8, will feature “open category” races for the 50-meter and 100-meter races across all stroke disciplines. More events could be added in the future, reports the Associated Press.
World Aquatics said detailed entry requirements and times would be made available “soon.”
“To be eligible, swimmers need an affiliation with a national federation and will be given the flexibility to participate individually, for their club, team or as national federation members,” the organization added.
World Aquatics took the opportunity to praise itself for creating the third, gender-neutral category.
“This pioneering pilot project highlights the organization’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity, welcoming swimmers of all sex and gender identities,” the organization said in a statement.
It added that the open category places emphasis on “gaining further experience for future development and celebrating diversity,” reports the BBC.
The governing body, formerly known as FINA, previously banned transgender female competitors from international competitions, including the Olympics and world championships, unless they could provide medical evidence that they had never experienced male puberty or had gone on puberty blockers before age 12 — effectively rendering the overwhelming majority of trans competitors ineligible to compete.
But it also said, following the adoption of the ban last year, that it was committed to creating an open category for all swimmers as part of its commitment to “gender inclusion.”
The World Cup in Berlin is the first of three meets this year. World Cup events are a key part of the swimming calendar, occurring between the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan — which took place last month — and the next World Aquatics Championships, scheduled for January 2024 in Doha, Qatar.
Kai Morgenroth, the vice president of the German Swimming Federation, praised the new category, saying that the World Cup host country was “proud” to host an event where swimmers can “compete without barriers.”
“Berlin is Germany’s hub for diversity and inclusion and therefore the perfect location for such a progressive project,” he said.
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