‘They can com­pete’

Trans­gen­der ath­letes al­lowed at com­pe­ti­tions

The Fiji Times - - FRONT PAGE - By SHI­RAZ KASIM

NEWS that trans­gen­der ath­letes will be al­lowed to com­pete in the girls’ divi­sion at the 2020 Fiji sec­ondary schools ath­let­ics com­pe­ti­tion has rocked the ath­let­ics fra­ter­nity.

Ath­let­ics Fiji pres­i­dent Fil­imoni Vuli Waqa said while the is­sue was “del­i­cate” and there were “no es­tab­lished poli­cies”, he did not have any ob­jec­tions to them par­tic­i­pat­ing in the big­gest sec­ondary schools ath­let­ics meet in the Pa­cific – be­cause Fiji fol­lowed World Ath­let­ics rules.

The Fiji Times posed the ques­tion to Mr Waqa af­ter New Zealand weightlift­er Lau­rel Hub­bard, a trans­gen­der ath­lete, com­peted in the women’s weightlift­ing in the Pa­cific Games this year and won the gold medal over Samoan hope­ful Fea­gaiga Stow­ers.

TRANS­GEN­DER ath­letes will be al­lowed to com­pete in the girls cat­e­gory of the Fiji sec­ondary schools ath­let­ics com­pe­ti­tion.

Ath­let­ics Fiji pres­i­dent Fil­imoni Vuli Waqa dropped this ‘bomb­shell’ amid protests from at least two former high school ath­letes and former stu­dents of an all­girls school.

The 2020 Coca-Cola Games is the big­gest sec­ondary schools ath­let­ics com­pe­ti­tion in the Pa­cific.

The Fiji Times posed the ques­tion to Mr Waqa af­ter New Zealand weightlift­er Lau­rel Hub­bard’s gold medal win at the Pa­cific Games this year.

Hub­bard snatched gold from Samoan flag-bearer and gold medal con­tender Fea­gaiga Stow­ers.

When asked if Ath­let­ics Fiji would al­low a trans­gen­der ath­lete to com­pete in an event against an ath­lete of a dif­fer­ent gen­der, Mr Waqa said the ques­tion was “a very del­i­cate one” as there were “no es­tab­lished poli­cies in place”.

“For the Coke Games par­tic­i­pa­tion, although we have not dis­cussed it in any of our meet­ings, but I per­son­ally don’t have any ob­jec­tions for them par­tic­i­pat­ing.

“I be­lieve that ev­ery Fi­jian has the fun­da­men­tal right to en­joy the ben­e­fits of sports and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Mr Waqa said ef­fec­tive Oc­to­ber 1, 2019, the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion

of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions (now World Ath­let­ics) had put in place a pol­icy that trans­gen­der ath­letes want­ing to com­pete in the fe­male clas­si­fi­ca­tion needed to com­ply with the testos­terone lim­its for en­try into the World Ath­let­ics Se­ries — such as South African Caster Se­menya for the World Cham­pi­onships and the Olympic Games.

World Ath­let­ics said un­der the new reg­u­la­tions, a trans­gen­der fe­male ath­lete was no longer re­quired to be recog­nised by law in her new gen­der but should pro­vide a signed dec­la­ra­tion that her gen­der iden­tity was fe­male and she must demon­strate to the sat­is­fac­tion of the ex­pert panel that the con­cen­tra­tion of testos­terone in her serum has been less than five nanomoles per litre con­tin­u­ously for a pe­riod of at least 12 months prior to be­ing de­clared el­i­gi­ble.

“Be­cause Ath­let­ics Fiji is af­fil­i­ated to the IAAF and hence gov­erned by its poli­cies con­cern­ing trans­gen­der ath­letes, Ocea­nia Ath­let­ics, the Pa­cific Games and all na­tional cham­pi­onships will have to fol­low the rul­ing of the IAAF.

“Ath­let­ics Fiji may al­low younger trans­gen­der ath­letes to com­pete in its lo­cal pro­grams but the same could not be al­lowed for the same ath­lete in an in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

“It is fair to say that trans­gen­der ath­letes can com­pete at the an­nual Coke Games but not at an in­ter­na­tional level since the in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions are gov­erned by the IAAF and any­one who wishes to com­pete in their events must abide by the set poli­cies.

“If the IAAF’s poli­cies al­low that, then they can, if not they can­not.”

A trans­gen­der per­son de­scribes an in­di­vid­ual whose gen­der iden­tity (one’s in­ter­nal psy­cho­log­i­cal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion as a boy/man or girl/woman) does not match the per­son’s sex at birth.

For ex­am­ple, a male-to-fe­male (MTF) trans­gen­der per­son is some­one who was born with a male body but iden­ti­fies as a girl or a woman.

A fe­male-to-male (FTM) trans­gen­der per­son is some­one who was born with a fe­male body but iden­ti­fies as a boy or a man.

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