Swim Ireland has undertaken considerable work over the past twelve months to create our Transgender and Non-Binary Participation and Competition Policy.

Transgender is an umbrella term for anyone whose gender identity or gender expression is different from the biological sex they were assigned at birth. Non-Binary refers to gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine.

The Policy relates to Swimming, including Open Water and Masters Swimming, and Diving at national level, with a separate Policy for Water Polo to be released in due course. We recognise and are bound by World Aquatics rules at International level.

In developing our Policy, we undertook a comprehensive consultation process, internally with the Swim Ireland Board, Staff, National Committee members and Club members, and externally with transgender and LGBTQ+ individuals and representative organisations, and National and International Governing Bodies of Sport.  We want to thank all those which contributed to this consultation.

The views of our members and external stakeholders were aligned in terms of general participation in the aquatics. Our aim is to continue to develop, deliver, and grow innovative programmes and events in swimming and the aquatics for all ages, gender, and background.

In terms of competition, views differed. Whilst transgender individuals and representative groups have generally advocated for no restrictions in the competitive space, the overwhelming majority of our membership believe that the biological female competition category needs to be protected to ensure fair competition. World Aquatics Scientific Panel Report concludes that transgender women swimmers retain a significant advantage over cisgender female swimmers, even after reducing their testosterone levels through medication.  Having considered all views, and the currently available data, we have opted to adopt a Policy whereby we will have two competition categories, Female (athletes with a birth sex of female) and Open (athletes with a birth sex of male, transgender or non-binary competitors and any competitor not eligible for the female category).

Although every athlete will be able to compete through one of these categories, we understand that the Policy position we are taking will not be welcomed by all representative groups. In conclusion, we have determined that the views of our membership to prioritise fair competition must take precedence.

We are aware of the relevant guidance which must be contained for Swimwear and Changing Facilities, and Overnight Travel, and the Policy contains guidance under these headings. We have also included a section on training and support for transgender athletes and for our volunteers.

The Policy is supplemented by guidance documents in the form of FAQs, which are intended to provide quick and informative answers to some of the common queries in relation to the Policy.

The Policy will be implemented for the 2024/25 season, which commences in September 2024.

We recognise that research continues to evolve within this area and therefore a two-year review period will be implemented. Should significant academic research be released, or actions taken at World Aquatics level, we will look to review at an earlier stage.

All policy documents are available in our Policies section of the Policies and Governance Documents section our our website.