The International Chess Federation (FIDE) says it is temporarily banning trans women from competing in its women’s events.
The FIDE said individual cases would require “further analysis” and that a decision could take up to two years. The move has been criticised by some players and enthusiasts.
Many sports governing bodies have been working on policies towards trans athletes, but chess does not involve comparable levels of physical activity. However, the FIDE told the BBC it wanted to analyse the impact of these policies and did not want to rush this process.
“The transgender legislation is rapidly developing in many countries and many sport bodies are adopting their own policies,” it said. “FIDE will be monitoring these developments and see how we can apply them to the world of chess. Two years is a scope of sight that seemed reasonable for the thorough analyses of such developments.”
It added that transgender players could still compete in the open section of its tournaments. Yosha Iglesias, a trans woman professional chess player with the FIDE rank of chess master, said the policy would lead to “unnecessary harm” for trans players and women. “This appalling situation will lead to depression and suicide attempts,” Iglesias said.
Woman Grandmaster and two-time US Women's Champion Jennifer Shahade also criticized the FIDE decision, saying the policy was “ridiculous and dangerous”. “It's obvious they didn't consult with any transgender players in constructing it... I strongly urge FIDE to reverse course on this and start from scratch with better consultants,” Shahade said.
UK MP Angela Eagle, who was a joint winner of the 1976 British Girls' Under-18 chess championship, said: “There is no physical advantage in chess unless you believe men are inherently more able to play than women - I spent my chess career being told women's brains were smaller than men's and we shouldn't even be playing. This ban is ridiculous and offensive to women."
In its policy decision, FIDE also said that trans men who had won women's titles before transitioning would see their titles abolished. Chess is classified as a sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Last month, the world's cycling governing body ruled that transgender women would be prevented from competing in female events. Meanwhile on Wednesday World Aquatics said it would debut a new open category for trans athletes at this year's Swimming World Cup event in Berlin after it voted last year to stop transgender athletes from competing in women's elite races.
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