World Aquatics is making headlines after scrapping its “open category” for transgender swimmers at the World Cup in Berlin, Germany after no athletes signed up. In July of 2022, the swimming world’s governing body introduced the new category for all sexes and gender identities in an effort to be more “inclusive.”
After announcing last year that transgender swimmers would no longer be permitted to compete against athletes of the opposite sex, World Aquatics, formerly FINA, promised to debut an open category which would allow for all gender identities. The category was set to hold its first races on October 6 which would have included “50m and 100m races across all strokes” in a competition which would span 2 days.
But the organization has now stated that the planned races would be cancelled due to a lack of any competitors signing up.
“Following the close of registration for the open category competitions at the World Aquatics Swimming World Cup – the Berlin 2023 meet scheduled for October 6-8th – World Aquatics can confirm that no entries have been received for the open category events,” said the organization.
Continuing, the governing body vowed to carry on its efforts to be more inclusive by offering more ope category events in the future:
“The World Aquatics Open Category Working Group will continue its work and engagement with the aquatics community on Open Category events. Even if there is no current demand at the elite level, the working group is planning to look at the possibility of including Open Category races at Masters events in the future.”
News that the open category had no entries sparked a conversation online about the motivations of transgender athletes, specifically those who are male, competing against the opposite sex. Colin Wright, founding editor of The Last Stand, called attention to the news on X (formerly Twitter), asserting that trans-identified male swimmers were simply seeking validation:
“But I was told that trans athletes ‘just wanted to play!’ No, it was clear all along that this was never about simply being ‘included’ in sports. They want the sports to ‘affirm’ their cross-sex identities. A separate ‘trans’ category doesn’t do that.”
Former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines, who gained notoriety for speaking out against trans-identified male swimmer Lia Thomas, said:
“World Aquatics & FINA created an Open Category for swimming at the World Cup to accommodate both fairness and inclusion. There wasn’t a single entry,” she wrote. “Very revealing as to what the real motivation is. Can’t cheat, won’t compete.”
Sharing Gaines’ sentiment, another X user who goes by the handle @KLongthorp explained that transgender athletes wanted “special” rights, not equal rights:
“If you needed proof that #transwomen want special and not equal rights/opportunities. They were given an open category, but no one signed up because they only want to invade women’s spaces/sports because they’re just mediocre males,” she wrote.
After many decried trans-identified male swimmer Lia Thomas for winning a Division I national championship in women’s swimming last year, World Aquatics approved a sex-based policy barring male athletes who had undergone male puberty from competing against the opposite sex.
According to Fox News, only swimmers “who transitioned before the age of 12” are allowed to compete in women’s events to “protect competitive fairness at [its] events, especially the women’s category.”