Former world swimmer Danni Miatke says she is “furious” by FINA’s controversial ruling effectively banning trans women from elite competition.
Most important points:
- Miatke said trans women are among the “most marginalized people in the world” and should be supported
- The Commonwealth Games gold medalist said the impact of the decision would last for decades
- Reactions to the ruling have been mixed, with former Olympian Nikki Dryden also speaking out against the ban.
Miatke, who won gold in the 50m butterfly at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, said she rejected the idea that banning trans women was about prioritizing “fairness” over “inclusion”.
“This is not about fairness, because fairness is inclusiveness,” she told ABC Sport.
“We’re not just talking about Australia’s, but the world’s most marginalized people. We should do everything we can to uplift and support them.”
Miatke, who identifies as a member of the LGBTQI+ community, said she was also disappointed that Dolphin Captain Cate Campbell had spoken publicly in support of the ban.
“I understand the difficult position Cate is in, as a media personality and as someone who was asked to testify for FINA,” she said.
“But athletes are the pillars of Australian communities when it comes to setting the moral standard of what we will accept.
Miatke, who now works as a pharmacist at a Melbourne hospital, added that it was only after her retirement that she had come to understand the crucial role sport plays in shaping social norms.
“I’ll be very honest, I didn’t have this perspective when I was an athlete,” said the 34-year-old.
“They teach you to be very selfish because how else can you justify spending 60 hours a week in a pool?
“But I think if you’re going to comment… [on an issue like this]you need to educate yourself about the impact of those decisions that go beyond you as an individual.”
Miatke added that she was tired of gender equality being used as an excuse to exclude trans and gender diverse people from sports.
“You can’t say you’re a feminist if you’re transphobic, that’s bullshit,” Miatke said.
“Feminism stands for equality for all, not just cisgender women. When we talk about trans women, we are talking about women.”
Groves, Dryden also speak out against FINA ban
Miatke isn’t the only former swimmer to speak out against the ban in recent days, with Maddie Groves reacting angrily to Cate Campbell’s claim that her stance on the FINA decision stemmed from a place of “acceptance” for gender-diverse people.
Groves made headlines last year when they withdrew from Olympic trials, citing a culture of misogyny within Australian swimming†
She has also since spoken to the ABC about: allegedly sexually abused by someone who works in sports†
On Tuesday, she was joined by former Canadian Olympic swimmer Nikki Dryden, now a human rights lawyer, who told Radio National’s Patricia Karvelas she believed the ban was unconstitutional.
“This is really not possible [ban] could stand up internationally under human rights rules,” Dryden told Karvelas.
Dryden added that it was problematic that FINA had yet to reveal who formed the “task force” behind the bombing decision.
“We have not been given a single name from this alleged task force, neither the scientists nor the human rights advisers,” Dryden said.
“The reference to ‘science’ is really flawed, because if you read [the policy] they keep comparing men to women… but we are not talking about men versus women, we are talking about trans or intersex women and [cis] Ladies.”
Dryden went on to claim that those who voted on the policy had less than 15 minutes to read it and make a final decision on it.
“FINA did this 40 minute presentation and they had all these people talking, including Cate Campbell; they didn’t even have the policy in front of them during that presentation,” she said.
“It’s a 24-page policy that’s very technical. Even the way it’s been adopted by the federations will be challenged.”
Dryden also questioned the idea that sports should be “fair”.
“I was never trained to care about the person on the next job and whether they competed fairly. We were trained to swim in our own lanes and do the best we could.
“This control of all women’s bodies to really stop just one swimmer” [in Lia Thomas] just don’t get up when you look at it in more detail.”
At this point, Miatke said she agreed that difference was a fundamental part of what made competition special.
“The real beauty of us as people, especially when you watch international sports, is the differences between us,” she said.
“If we were all cookie cutters, copies of each other, that would take away all the excitement, motivation, inspiration and differentiation in what we do in any area of our lives, let alone elite sports.”
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