The International Chess Foundation, FIDE, has introduced a temporary suspension on transgender women’s participation in official women’s chess competitions.
The governing body is set to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the matter, with a final decision possibly taking up to two years to be reached.
Starting from August 21, the new regulations will be enforced; however, transgender players can still engage in the ‘open’ categories of tournaments.
FIDE clarified, stating, “If a player’s gender has transitioned from male to female, the player is ineligible to take part in official FIDE women’s events until FIDE reaches a further decision.”
Acknowledging that this issue is a dynamic one for the world of chess, FIDE expressed the understanding that aside from technical regulations, additional policies may need to be developed in the future in accordance with research findings.
In correspondence with Reuters on Thursday, a spokesperson from FIDE conveyed that the decision was made to establish clearer procedures when a player undergoes a gender transition.
While various sports such as athletics, swimming, and cycling have imposed stricter entry rules for transgender women in elite female competitions, chess doesn’t demand such high levels of physical exertion.
The statement affirmed, “Transgender regulations are rapidly evolving across many countries and sports organizations are formulating their individual policies. FIDE will be monitoring these progressions to explore their application within the realm of chess.”
The two-year time frame is deemed reasonable for a comprehensive evaluation of these developments, allowing for a new iteration of these policies without haste.
Angela Eagle, a UK MP who was a co-champion in the British Girls’ Under-18 Chess Championship in 1976, criticized the ban as “absurd and disrespectful to women.”
Speaking to the BBC website, Eagle commented, “There is no inherent physical advantage in chess unless one believes that men are naturally superior players – I spent my chess career encountering the notion that women have smaller brains than men and should not even be competing. This ban is absurd and disrespectful to women.”
Woman Grandmaster and two-time US Women’s Champion Jennifer Shahade conveyed to ESPN, “At a juncture where the chess community is grappling with issues of sexual assault and harassment, FIDE’s decision to limit the rights of transgender players, a crucial and vulnerable segment of our community, is disconcerting.”
Shahade added, “This situation underscores the alarming interplay between misogyny and transphobia, and I hope that these policies are reconsidered and revised.”
In response to ESPN, FIDE’s Deputy of the Management Board, Dana Reizniece-Ozola, clarified, “Let us make it clear that the new regulations aim to establish a defined procedure for individuals who have officially transitioned their gender to update their information in the FIDE Directory.”
Reizniece-Ozola further emphasized that the “absence of regulations” led to “ambiguity,” necessitating the establishment of a proper order to ensure the accurate representation of transgender players in the official FIDE register.
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