WATCH — Swimming shines light on science and debate over transgender athletes

Isabelle MacNeil
Story by Isabelle MacNeil and CBC Kids News • 2022-07-05 06:00

From Lia Thomas’s NCAA win to FINA’s new transgender policy


Every week, CBC Kids News takes a deep dive into a topic that everyone’s talking about. Click the video above or below for this week’s KN Explains.


A new policy administered by FINA, the international federation that oversees watersports in athletic competitions, has effectively banned transgender women from competing in women’s events.

A transgender woman is someone who was assigned male at birth, but has the gender identity of a female.

This means award-winning swimmers like Lia Thomas, who made headlines after she won an event at the NCAA swimming championships in March 2022, would no longer qualify for FINA’s events.

On June 19, FINA announced a new “gender inclusion policy,” which only allows athletes who transitioned before the age of 12 to compete in women’s events.

According to a FINA spokesperson, the age of 12 was selected for a specific reason.

The federation believes that athletes who have transitioned after experiencing male puberty have an unfair advantage over female competitors.

Some scientific studies point to advantages and disadvantages transgender athletes experience over competitors.

Still, these athletes have not swept the competition the way some believed they would. 

Do you think it’s fair to ban transgender female athletes from participating in women’s water sports?

There’s a lot to unbox here. But don’t worry, we’ve got you. KN Explains:

Check out more explainers:

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TOP IMAGE CREDIT: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images with Graphic design by Philip Street/CBC

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About the Contributor

Isabelle MacNeil
Isabelle MacNeil
CBC Kids News Contributor
Isabelle MacNeil is a creative and ambitious Grade 10 student from Dartmouth N.S. with a love for soccer, volleyball, acting and business. Isabelle has been having so much fun working as a contributor for CBC Kids News since September 2018. Isabelle loves reporting stories and hopes to inspire others as a positive role model and believes that giving kids a voice is more important than ever.

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