From Iceland – No expert consulted in Icelandic Swimming Association decision



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Elekes Andor/Wikimedia Commons

The Icelandic Swimming Association (SSÍ) backed rules barring trans women from competing in the women’s category at the World Championships, without consulting experts, reports Frettablaðið.

SSÍ is facing criticism for this decision, in particular because experts were not consulted before the decision and the decision was not based on the best information.

“SSÍ made this decision, which affects trans people in Iceland, without consulting the organization Trans Ísland or other trans people in Iceland. It was a mistake,” says Trans Ísland president Viima Lampinen.

A joint statement from Trans Ísland and other organizations urged the SSÍ to withdraw its vote. If withdrawing the vote is not possible, the joint statement urges the SSÍ to issue a statement saying it cannot vote and apologize to trans people in Iceland. The statement also urges all sports federations to speak out against the exclusion of trans people.

“There are no definitive definitions of what exactly a man or a woman is, the variability is so great that science cannot give a complete answer. But according to Western beliefs, there are only two categories, women and men, and in sport, this definition is very crucial,” says Viima. “As a result, there are easily all sorts of debates about gender and gender in sport that are not based about biology, but about dividing people into two categories. However, this division is not justified when the biology is examined in more detail.

Viima believes the International Swimming Federation received support for the decision because it only sought feedback from fans and did not seek input from LGBTQ+ organizations.

“I think the International Swimming Federation went too far and I don’t think these people really understood what they were doing,” Viima said. “I am also very sorry that those of us who have expertise in the matter were not consulted before this decision was made.”

Viima believes that these decisions are directly linked to movements limiting the rights of women and minorities.

“Because it is not possible to set rules for women and limit their rights and powers, all kinds of minorities are often targeted, especially trans women, who become easy targets,” says Viima . “When attitudes are generally against trans people, it doesn’t take much to convince people of such a ban, even if it goes against science. Misinformed and misguided people who try to doing the right thing can easily make mistakes and that’s what I believe happened here.

Trans women face the International Swimming Federation ban, but trans men are not banned.

All women, including trans women, should be allowed to compete in the women’s category. I would go so far as to say that such a competition does not take sport into account and that the people who create such a competition do not understand what achievement sport is.

“It’s part of this drive to control women’s bodies, and part of it is the transphobic thinking that trans women aren’t women, they’re men in dresses. This thinking seems hard to get rid of. of society,” says Viima. “The result is that trans women are dehumanized, disenfranchised and their lives are threatened because they are subjected to a lot of physical and mental violence, exclusion and discrimination. .”

Viima says the idea that trans women have an advantage just because they were born with a male body is inaccurate. They also mention that other physical qualities such as height, foot size and leg length are not used to disqualify athletes from competing, so why should the characteristics of trans women be treated any differently.

The International Swimming Federation has floated the idea of ​​creating an open competition for trans competitors. Viima thinks this is unnecessary and unfair.

“I think this open night denigrates top athletes. It is not exciting to register in a category where there will never be enough participants to create a real competition, moreover there is no respect, tradition or history attached to the category and they do not will never have TV time. Viima said. “So I just find it outrageous and unnecessary. All women, including trans women, should be allowed to compete in the women’s category. I would go so far as to say that such a competition does not take sport into account and that the people who create such a competition do not understand what achievement sport is.

Viima states that the fear of trans women in sports ultimately reduces sports to physical activity solely based on body stats. They liken it to awarding gold to the heaviest sumo wrestler or winning the tallest average basketball team.

“I want to see trans people thrive and succeed in sport and if they can only participate with a few exceptions, the competition is not equal, but that is the rationale that is used for these special rules” , says Viima.

SSÍ President Björn Sigurðsson said in an interview that criticism and accusations of bias are hurtful.

“The SSÍ just suffers the consequences of its actions,” says Viima. “Many organizations have condemned this decision and if there is no ongoing prejudice, we need to see it. They can invite us to discuss the issues and do not have to be a victim.