Athlete Ally Responds to World Aquatics “Open Category”

August 17, 2023 — Athlete Ally responded today to news that World Aquatics, the international federation for water sports, will be debuting an “open category” for transgender athletes at a World Cup event in Berlin in October. World Aquatics previously banned transgender athletes from major events like the Olympics and world championships, but said it was committed to creating an open category for all swimmers when it first adopted its “gender inclusion policy” last year.

“Athlete Ally is dismayed to see World Aquatics forcing transgender athletes to participate within an “open category”, which promotes further othering and alienation of transgender athletes who already face tremendous stigma and abuse,” said Anne Lieberman, Director of Policy and Programs at Athlete Ally. “As a society, we decided long ago that “separate but equal” is dangerous and damaging. This policy does nothing to provide the kind of protections to women athletes that they have been calling for for decades — an end to sexual harassment and abuse, parity in pay and leadership, equal opportunities, and a lack of resources for women athletes. Instead, this only increases hostile gender norms and invasive testing that hurt all women athletes.”