Boris Johnson supports banning trans women from competing in elite swim races

Boris Johnson said he had not studied in detail the ruling from Fina, the governing body of the swimming world, but I see no reason to disagree.


Boris Johnson has backed a ban on trans women from competing in some elite swim races – but insisted people should be “as understanding as possible”.

Fina, the world governing body of swimming, voted last week to bar transgender athletes from competing in elite women’s races if they’ve gone through any part of the male puberty process.

Mr Johnson told reporters on a trip to Rwanda: “I haven’t studied it in detail but I see no reason to disagree.”

When asked by a reporter, “Can a woman be born with a penis,” he replied, “Not without being a man.

When asked if there was a “difference between a woman and a trans woman,” he paused for a long time before saying “yes.”

Boris Johnson made the comments during a trip to Rwanda


(Getty Images)

Pressed for his views, he said: “Look, it’s very, very important that we as a society are as understanding of everyone else as possible. That’s what I’ve always worked for.

“When you start moving from issues of sexuality to issues of gender, you start raising certain issues.

“I think I spoke of three concerns I’ve had in the past.

“They have to do with the age at which one can be ‘Gillick-competent’ for the transition, the question of safe spaces for women and the difficulties one has in athletic competitions.

“These are all very difficult issues and you have to be very sensitive. But those are some of the areas.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it was up to each international sports federation to set its own rules for accepting transgender athletes, despite criticism from tennis great Martina Navratilova.

Navratilova, a gay rights pioneer, had criticized the IOC last week for a lack of leadership on the issue.

Former tennis great Martina Navratilova criticized the change


AAP/PA images)

“The IOC completely stung,” Navratilva, who has won a total of 59 Grand Slam titles, told the Australian newspaper.

“This ‘Oh, we’ll leave that to the individual federations’. How can these individual federations set up their different rules within their country?” She said.

“You have to research and implement … and it costs money to then figure it out and it’s impossible.”

LGBT rights group Athlete Ally previously said FINA’s new eligibility criteria were “discriminatory” and “harmful”, while transgender cyclist Veronica Ivy called the guideline “unscientific”.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said on Friday: “This is a very divisive, a very difficult situation, a very difficult issue where we must try to balance fairness with inclusivity.”

Sasha Misra, deputy director of communications and campaigns, questioned why journalists were asking questions about a “tiny, vulnerable minority” at a time of multiple national crises.

She said: “We know that the majority of the public is supportive and compassionate towards trans people who are their family, friends and neighbours.

“All that is achieved through this type of media coverage is that trans people feel less secure in their day-to-day lives and the public has less opportunity to hear from the government about the pressing political issues of the day.

“The Prime Minister may welcome the diversion, but he should not be fooled that anti-trans talks will win votes.”

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