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Friday, May 24, 2024

International Chess Federation announces ban on transgender women in women’s events

The regulation comes as the latest in a series of measures restricting the involvement of transgender athletes in sports


By CLARA FISCHER — sports@theaggie.org 


On Aug. 14, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) published a new policy regulating the involvement of transgender players in the sport. Notably, the policy states that transgender women are not allowed to participate in women’s competitions until “further analysis” is conducted by the FIDE council — a process that “shall be taken… at the earliest possible time,” but can take up to two years.   

The policy also mandates that players who hold women’s titles and later transition to a man will see their women’s titles abolished. However, if a player transitions their gender from a man to a woman, their titles will “remain eligible.” 

In a written response to the Associated Press, FIDE’s press office stated that the regulations are “aimed at clearly defining the procedure on how a person who has officially changed their gender may register that fact on FIDE Directory,” with transgender players still being allowed to participate in the open section of tournaments. 

Following the release of the policy, several prominent chess organizations published statements documenting their own stance on transgender players’ involvement in the game. 

The United States Chess Federation shared a document outlining their policy enacted in 2018, stating that it “reflects a position that will allow for players to affiliate with US Chess regardless of gender affiliation.” The German Chess Federation shared a similar stance. 

“The German Chess Federation (DSB) has a clear position: we do not exclude trans women,” DSB wrote in a statement posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. 

Along with statements like these from major national organizations, FIDE has received backlash from chess players and LGBTQ+ advocates around the world.

“The new regulations will make chess players all over the world face a horrible dilemma: transition or quit chess,” Yosha Inglesias, a professional chess player, said in a statement on X.

“[The ban] is not just transphobic, it’s anti-feminist too,” Richard Pringle, an associate professor of socio-cultural studies of sports at Monash University said in an article for The Washington Post

Among criticism that FIDE’s policy is blatantly anti-trans, critics have also denounced the new regulation for being inherently misogynistic. 

“This is so insulting to cis women, to trans women, and to the game itself,” the National Center for Transgender Equality said in a post on X. “It assumes that cis women couldn’t be competitive against cis men — and relies on ignorant anti-trans ideas.”

Furthermore, many have voiced concerns over the timing of the policy, which came shortly after the release of an open letter penned by 14 female chess players concerning “sexist or sexual violence perpetrated by chess players, coaches, arbiters, and managers.” The letter now has over 100 signatures and is the latest in a series of revelations surrounding sexual misconduct and abuse in the sport.

“The governing body’s move seems like a smoke screen, a way to divert attention away from MeToo,” Jennifer Shahade, two-time US women’s chess champion and author said in an opinion column for MSNBC.

  In an opinion column for The Guardian, columnist and author Arwa Mahdawi referred to the defenses of the FIDE regulation as “sexist assumptions and shaky science.”

“Ultimately women’s chess isn’t helped by gatekeeping definitions of women,” Mahdawi said. “It’s not helped by excluding trans women; it’s helped by encouraging more women to get into chess and dismantling gender stereotypes.”

The policy set forth by FIDE comes as the latest in a string of regulations surrounding transgender athletes’ participation in sports such as track and field, cycling, swimming and more. As more controversial policy decisions are made regarding the presence of transgender athletes in the athletic world, there is sure to be an increase in both backlash and support from athletes and advocates alike.      


Written by: Clara Fischer — sports@theaggie.org