International Chess Federation Bans Trans Women From Competing

International Chess Federation Bans Trans Women From Competing
Image: FIDE Facebook

By Alexander Driscoll

The International Chess Federation (FIDE), has become the latest sporting body to effectively ban transgender women from competing in women’s only categories, citing issues in current competitive regulations.

While the ban is only temporary, the move has been criticised by players and enthusiasts alike.

Will Have Past Titles Abolished

Under the new rules, transgender men who held titles as women will have their titles abolished unless they detransition.

Trans female players who won titles before they sought gender-affirming care will also see those abolished.

Policy Comes Into Effect August 21

The ban will stay in place for the next two years until FIDE can complete “further analysis”.

Transgender athletes competing in the open category will not have any restrictions placed on them. The policy will come into effect on August 21.

This is the latest ban on transgender women competing in the women only categories. Other associations enforcing bans include World Athletics, World Rugby, the International Cycling Union and World Swimming (FINA), which have recently created an open category for trans women to compete in.

FIDE has stipulated that the effective ban is necessary due to an ambiguity in current regulations, with a need to establish clearer guidelines so trans athletes could compete in the correct category.

Many have turned to social media to air criticisms of the move, accusing it of being both transphobic and sexist, as no potential physical advantages from being male can be exploited in a game of chess. This has led some to suggest that FIDE is implying female chess players are not as capable as their male counterparts.

One such critic is trans chess player Yosha Iglesias, who has said in a post to X, “If you want to help women in chess, fight sexist and sexual violence, give women in chess more visibility and more money”, adding that they shouldn’t “use trans women players scapegoats.”

Others, including Iglesias, have also highlighted the inappropriate timing of this announcement, coming not long after eight women accused chess Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez of sexual misconduct.

While FIDE has assured that this measure is only temporary and a final ruling will be made, the next two years will likely hold a great deal of uncertainty for transgender chess players and their future in the sport.

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