World swimming’s governing body effectively banned transgender athletes from competing in women’s events on Sunday.
The sport’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), unveiled stricter rules for trans female athletes by doubling the period of time before a rider transitioning from male to female can compete from 12 to 24 months based on testosterones levels.
“This is not saying that people are encouraged to transition by the age of 12. It’s what the scientists are saying, that if you transition after the start of puberty, you have an advantage, which is unfair,” James Pearce, who is the spokesperson for FINA president Husain Al-Musallam, told The Associated Press.
“They’re not saying everyone should transition by age 11, that’s ridiculous. You can’t transition by that age in most countries and hopefully you wouldn’t be encouraged to. Basically, what they’re saying is that it is not feasible for people who have transitioned to compete without having an advantage.”
There may have been cheers for a ton of people regarding the new rules, but Megan Rapinoe fully supports including transgender athletes in every sport.
“Show me the evidence that trans women are taking everyone’s scholarships, are dominating in every sport, are winning every title,” Rapinoe said, via the Daily Mail. “I’m sorry, it’s just not happening.”
“I’m 100 percent supportive of trans inclusion,” she told TIME. “People do not know very much about it. We’re missing almost everything.”
Rapinoe added that a kid’s high school volleyball team is not as important as a transgender athlete’s life.
“I’m sorry, your kid’s high school volleyball team just isn’t that important. It’s not more important than any one kid’s life,” she added.
“We’re putting everything through ‘God forbid a trans person be successful in sports,'” Rapinoe added. “Get a grip on reality and take a step back.”
The debate over transgender athletes reached a fever pitch earlier this year when University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas made history by becoming the first transgender NCAA champion in Division I. Thomas has expressed a desire to compete for a spot at the Olympics in 2024 but the new FINA rule would block her participation from the Paris Games, or any other elite races.
FINA also will create a working group to establish an “open” category for trans athletes in some events.