Athlete Ally Responds to CAS Decision on World Aquatics Trans Ban

June 12, 2024 – Athlete Ally responded today to news that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed transgender swimmer Lia Thomas’ challenge against World Aquatics, the global sport governing body for swimming, in response to their rules excluding transgender women from competing internationally in the women’s category unless they can prove they have suppressed their testosterone continuously from the age of 12 (the “Trans Ban”).

The CAS decision does not affirm the Trans Ban (or other rules excluding trans women from international sport). Instead, the CAS dismissed the case on a preliminary objection by World Aquatics, determining that Thomas did not have legal standing under Swiss Law to bring her case against World Aquatics. CAS considered that the Trans Ban was not triggered in Thomas’ case, as she had not been registered to participate in any World Aquatics international competitions. The CAS decision means that no U.S. trans woman can challenge the World Aquatics Trans Ban, thereby denying trans women access to justice.

“The CAS decision is deeply disappointing,” said Thomas in a statement provided by her legal team. “Blanket bans preventing trans women from competing are discriminatory and deprive us of valuable athletic opportunities that are central to our identities. The CAS decision should be seen as a call to action to all trans women athletes to continue to fight for our dignity and human rights.”

“For decades, the International Olympic Committee and almost all Olympic International Federations have required athletes to arbitrate disputes at CAS,” said Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director at Athlete Ally. “By dismissing Lia Thomas’ legal challenge against World Aquatics, the CAS has denied her fundamental right to access an effective remedy for acts that violate her human rights. This is a sad day for sports and for anyone who believes that trans athletes should have the opportunity for their experiences of discrimination to be heard and adjudicated like everyone else.”