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Australian swimming icon Dawn Fraser is the latest to add her name to a growing chorus of athletes speaking out against transgender athletes competing in women’s sports.
The four-time Olympic gold medal winner said she agreed with decorated champion Emma McKeon that biological men shouldn’t be allowed to race against women.
Fraser, who defended her 100-metre freestyle crown at three-consecutive Games, instead suggested giving transgender athletes their own competitions.
Dawn Fraser has joined Emma McKeon and Emily Seebohm in saying transgender athletes shouldn’t be allowed to compete opposite women
Fraser said she agreed with decorated champion Emma McKeon that biological men shouldn’t be allowed to race against women
‘I don’t think it’s fair to have transgender men competing against women,’ she told the Daily Telegraph.
‘Why don’t transgender people compete against each other. That would solve all the problems?’
However, transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey, who was not allowed to enter the AFLW draft in 2017, said the debate was misguided and driven by misinformation.
She claimed trans women don’t have an advantage as they lose a significant amount of strength when they transition from male to female.
American swimmer Lia Thomas (left) is the highest profile trans swimmer – with Australia’s organisation admitting they will soon have to face the issue
Hannah Mouncey (right), Australia’s most recognisable trans athlete, said McKeon’s comments were misinformed but she wasn’t angry with the Olympic swimmer
The debate has raged during the federal election campaign after Liberal candidate Katherine Deves was criticised for her tweets on trans women in sport.
McKeon, a five-time gold medallist, said swimming would eventually need to ‘deal with’ the issue of transgender women competing because it’s ‘just not fair’.
‘I mean, I personally wouldn’t want to be racing against someone who is biologically a male, so that’s a concern,’ McKeon said at Griffith University’s A Better Future For All seminar this week.
‘It’s not a new thing, but it’s new in that sport, swimming, are going to have to deal with it.’
This week McKeon said swimming would need to ‘deal with’ the issue of transgender women competing because it’s ‘just not fair’
McKeon told the seminar it was unlikely she would ever personally encounter the issue.
‘I don’t think I’m going to have to race against a trans swimmer, I don’t think it’s going to come to that point,’ she said.
‘But now that it’s a growing thing, the sport has to think about how to handle it and how to deal with it, because you do want to be inclusive, but you don’t want to have females racing against swimmers who are biologically male because it’s just not fair.’
McKeon’s Olympic teammate Emily Seebohm compared drug use in sports to the unfair competitive advantages transgender athletes have in women’s competitions.
While she said swimming should be inclusive for everyone, the 29-year-old said she would not want to compete against a transgender woman due to their biologically superior strength.
‘Obviously, we want everyone to be involved. I love my sport and I want to share it with everyone,’ she told Today.
Australian swimmer Emily Seebohm has called for inclusivity and fairness in women’s sports, but admits it remains ‘unknown’ how the two agendas can be married together
‘But we also need to think about what’s fair for the athletes and how they prepare and perform – we need to have that same level playing field just like we do with drugs in sport.
‘I want to know [when I am in the water] that I am in that same field where everyone has that same ability of strength.. speed.. power.
‘Biological males are always going to be faster and stronger than I will ever be in my life and I want to compete on that same level playing field.’
Seebohm said the discussion is still fresh and it remains ‘unknown’ how fairness and inclusion can be married together.
She said it was ultimately up to sporting organisations to work out how the two agendas can be fairly balanced within women’s sport.
Australia’s most decorated Olympian, Emma McKeon, believes it is unfair to compete against transgender women in female sport
Mouncey, Australia’s most recognisable transgender athlete, reacted to McKeon’s comments by saying the five-time gold medallist was misinformed.
‘When it comes to Emma’s comments, I have no anger towards her, she is just dealing with the incorrect information she has been given,’ Mouncey said.
She said transgender athletes lost ‘significant strength’ once they had transitioned.
The 32-year-old, who represented Australia in men’s handball while named Callum before transitioning, admitted she used to bench 150kg, but that plummeted to 50kg within 12 months.
‘That’s the effect of the loss of testosterone,’ she said.
Tracy Stockwell, the President of Swimming Australia, said they are preparing for trans people to want to compete and are set for showdown talks on their future in meets.
‘I don’t know that we would have had any instances yet but it’s only a matter of time,’ she told the Telegraph.
‘I think we’ve got to be prepared for that.’
Swimming Australia have admitted transgender athletes are set to become a big issue for professional sports (pictured: American trans swimmer Lia Thomas)
Ms Stockwell wants the ‘divisive’ issue clearly outlined by FINA, the International Olympic Committee who oversee water sports, with officials to meet prior to July’s world championships.
Swimming Australia will discuss the issue at a board meeting in May, with Ms Stockwell saying they will consider both ‘inclusive and fair policies’.
‘It’s complicated, it’s emotional, it’s divisive, depending on people’s views,’ she said at Wednesday’s announcement that Australia and the US would conduct a ‘duel in the pool’ meet in Sydney in August.
‘I respect everyone’s opportunity to have their view on it so we will be liaising and have spoken to FINA about doing more research and coming up with an international policy.
‘I think that’s the important thing, we want to be inclusive, but we also want to be fair. And the big question is, how do we do that?’
Tracy Stockwell (pictured), president of Swimming Australia, said they are preparing for trans people to want to compete and are set for showdown talks on their future
Ms Stockwell said considerations would include testosterone levels but admitted officials weren’t ready to make any decisions.
‘I’m not a medical expert or a doctor and so I can’t speak to how long does it take to mitigate the benefits of going into male puberty and what is the right level of testosterone,’ she said.
‘But there are rules for women in sport about testosterone levels and as someone who competed against the East German women, I think many people would say, ‘well, that wasn’t fair’.’
However, Aussie swimming legend Kieran Perkins, who is now the CEO of the Australian Sports Commission, said the issue was ‘not the highest priority’.
‘The coalition of major sporting groups and the human rights commission developed the guidelines for participation and elite sports that considers safety, fairness and inclusion,’ he said.
‘Transgender issues are not the highest priority on our agenda, there are a lot of challenges for women in sport, women’s safe enjoyment of sport, increasing women’s participation in sport, getting more women in professional coaching, development and administration are the areas we are focusing our energy on.
‘The guidelines in place allow for inclusion and fairness to be appropriately managed by sports as far as we believe.’
Scott Morrison has backed a new push to prevent transgender women who were born male from playing female sport.
The Prime Minister threw his support behind Liberal senator Claire Chandler’s proposed law to prevent women’s clubs from being sued for excluding a trans player to reduce the risk of injury and unfair competition.
‘I support it, I think it is a terrific bill and I’ve given her great encouragement,’ he said alongside the Tasmanian senator in Trianbunna on Tuesday.
‘Claire is a champion for women’s sport and I think she has been right to raise these issues in the way that she has.’
Scott Morrison labelled a bill to prevent women’s clubs from being sued for excluding a trans player as ‘terrific’
Former Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack also weighed in on Thursday, saying it was unfair for girls and women to compete against ‘some ex butch bloke’.
Mr McCormack backed Ms Deves and McKeon, saying while he understood it was difficult for transwomen, there was an issue on fairness.
‘For those people putting poisoned pen to paper, (what) if your slightly-built late-teenage daughter is lining up playing sport against some ex butch bloke who is getting an advantage because they now identify as a woman?’ he said.
‘It is about fairness and it is about biology. We can’t discriminate but we must be fair.
‘If you went out into the homes and sports venues right around Australia there would be many more people in Katherine Deves and Emma McKeon’s corner than the other side.’