Sex & Gender /

International Chess Federation Prohibits Transgender-Identifying Competitor From Playing Against Women

The organization said 'an established order was needed to provide the right of the transgender players being properly represented'

Competitors who identify as transgender women will not be permitted to compete against biologically female chess players following a decision from the International Chess Federation.

FIDE will maintain this policy until after its officials have assessed individual cases of gender change.

“FIDE recognizes that this is an evolving issue for chess and that besides technical regulations on transgender regulations further policy may need to be evolved in the future in line with research evidence,” the organization stated in a document detailing its regulation.

“In the event that the gender was changed from a male to a female the player has no right to participate in official FIDE events for women until further FIDE’s decision is made,” states the FIDE. “Such decision should be based on further analysis and shall be taken by the FIDE Council at the earliest possible time, but not longer than within 2 (two) years period.”

“There are no restrictions to play in the open section for a person who has changed the gender,” the FIDE added.

The policy also says that if a player has previously won titles as a woman and then elects to transition and register as a man, “the women titles are to be abolished.” 

“Those can be renewed if the person changes the gender back to a woman and can prove the ownership of the respective FIDE ID that holds the title,” the organization states. “If a player has changed the gender from a man into a woman, all the previous titles remain eligible. The player may use only the published rating at the time the registration was changed, and all subsequent ratings when applying for women titles.”

The policy goes into effect on Aug. 21, 2023.

Some FIDE title holders have critiqued the new policy as “anti-trans regulations.”

“So FIDE just published (yesterday) a list of anti-trans regulations, like it was ‘the biggest threat of women in chess,’” Yosha Iglesias, a FIDE Master who also coaches chess, wrote on social media, per The Independent. “Can someone tell me what qualifies as an official FIDE event? Will I be allowed to play the French Championship in 3 days? The European Club Cup in September?”

The FIDE told AP News that there had been “ambiguity” regarding its gender policies and that “an established order was needed to provide the right of the transgender players being properly represented.”

Several sports governing bodies have unveiled or enacted policies regulating transgender-identifying athletes’ participation.

The World Athletics Council, which regulates international track and field, announced in March that biological males who identify as transgender women will not be permitted to compete against women. 

“Decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups, but we continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations,” said Sebastian Coe, the council’s president, in a press release.

In July, World Aquatics announced a new “Open” category after barring transgender-identifying athletes from competing against genders that correlate with their gender identity.

The announcement came nine days after the Union Cycliste Internationale advised that biological men who “transitioned after (male) puberty” would not be permitted to compete against female cyclists to “ensure equal opportunities.”

I would also like to reaffirm that the UCI fully respects and supports the right of individuals to choose the sex that corresponds to their gender identity, whatever sex they were assigned at birth,” said UCI President David Lappartient. “However, it has a duty to guarantee, above all, equal opportunities for all competitors in cycling competitions. It is this imperative that led the UCI to conclude that, given the current state of scientific knowledge does not guarantee such equality of opportunity between transgender female athletes and cisgender female participants, it was not possible, as a precautionary measure, to authorise the former to race in the female categories.”

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