‘They can compete’
Transgender athletes allowed at competitions
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.