The world’s premier chess federation has sparked a furious sexism row after it banned trans women from competing in all-female competitions while it decides whether they have an unfair advantage.
New rules from the International Chess Federation (FIDE) state that any player who has changed from male to female ‘has no right to participate in official FIDE women’s events’ until further analysis , which could take up to two years, is carried out.
The decision, which was released on Monday and will take effect on August 21, drew criticism from trans rights supporters who called the decision “pure bigotry and persecution”, while others called it a “offensive to women”.
This comes as many sports involving intense physical activity have grappled with how to formulate policies towards transgender athletes in recent years. Women’s rights activists such as former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies have spoken out against born male athletes competing in women’s categories.
But many have wondered why the chess federation, which failed to justify its decision, introduced the change in a sport that involves mental skills.
Angela Eagle, the Labor MP for Wallasey, wrote: “There is no physical advantage in chess unless you believe that men are inherently more capable of playing than women – I have spent my career in chess to be told that women’s brains were smaller than men’s and we shouldn’t even play – This ban is ridiculous and offensive to women.
Transgender chess player Yosha Iglesias is pictured on the left. She called the federation’s decision ‘heartbreaking’
The rule change by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) states that any player who has changed from male to female “is not entitled to participate in official FIDE events for women” until such time. that a decision, which could take up to two years, be taken. (file picture)
Katy Montgomerie reacted angrily to the rule change, tweeting: ‘By banning trans women from chess the insane anti-trans lobby has fully revealed its hand.
“They not only believe that sex is an immaterial immutable binary, they also believe that women are intellectually inferior. That’s what we say they believe from the start.
Trans player Yosha Iglesias, recognized as a woman by FIDE, called the federation’s decision “heartbreaking”.
The 35-year-old Frenchman told The temperature: ‘There is no biological advantage. It’s not biology, it’s sociology, psychology and it’s sexism, it’s (FIDE) aggression.
“They say they’re not against trans people, they’re fighting to protect women’s sport, even though they don’t care about women’s sport at all.”
Iglesias also tweeted: “So FIDE just published (yesterday) a list of anti-trans regulations, as if it were ‘the biggest threat to women in chess’.
‘Can someone tell me what is considered an official FIDE event? Will I be allowed to compete in the French Championship in 3 days? The European Club Cup in September?
She later wrote, “If you want to help women chess, fight gender and sexual violence, give women chess more exposure and more money. Don’t use trans players as scapegoats. We contribute to the development of women in chess. We are women in chess.
India Willoughby, a transgender journalist, tweeted: ‘This is insane. Transgender women banned from playing Women’s CHESS by the International Chess Federation. Pure bigotry and persecution. How can you justify this @FIDE_chess?’
The National Center for Transgender Equality wrote: ‘Really? Chess? It’s so insulting to cis women, to trans women, and to the game itself. It assumes that cis women could not be competitive against cis men – and relies on ignorant anti-trans ideas.
Meanwhile, Twitter user Kate said: “Oh they just showed what they really think because WHY would an intellectual sport like chess be divided by gender!” It’s offensive to all women.
The top chess federation’s decision sparked a major backlash, with some accusing it of “pure bigotry and persecution”.
FIDE said it and its member federations are receiving increasing requests for recognition from players who identify as transgender. He said he would only recognize a player’s new gender if it had been “confirmed by national authorities based on a proper legal and formal change process”.
“Gender reassignment is a change that has a significant impact on a player’s status and future tournament eligibility, so it can only be done if there is relevant proof of the change provided,” the federation said. .
“In case the gender has changed from male to female, the player has no right to participate in official FIDE events for women until FIDE’s decision is made,” did he declare.
Holders of female titles who change gender to male would see those titles “abolished”, the federation said, while hinting at the possibility of reinstatement “if the person changes gender to female”.
“If a player has changed gender from male to female, all previous titles remain eligible,” the federation said.
He acknowledged that such issues regarding transgender players were an “evolving problem for chess” and that “other policies may need to be developed in the future in accordance with research evidence”.
Under the rule change, trans players will still be allowed to participate in open tournaments, but not women-only competitions – which were introduced to encourage more women in the sport.
The game’s popularity skyrocketed among women to an all-time high of 15% thanks to online gaming and the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit in which Anya Taylor-Joy played the role of fictional grandmaster.
Chess players have reacted to the policy by accusing FIDE of trying to “entertain” the “sexual abuse” allegations that rocked the sport last week. The chess players made these accusations in an open letter.
Flora van Uffelen, 21, wrote: ‘Do @FIDE_chess think trans women have a biological advantage in chess? What profound nonsense. Or are they trying to distract from the misogyny, harassment, and even rape that many female chess players experience when participating in their tournaments?
The chess player reacted to the politics by accusing FIDE of trying to ‘entertain’ the ‘sexual abuse’ allegations that rocked the sport last week
The game’s popularity soared among female gamers to an all-time high of 15% thanks to online gaming and the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit in which Anya Taylor-Joy (pictured) played the role of fictional grandmaster
Ana Valens, trans writer for The Mary Sueclaimed that “FIDE treats trans women as a sort of threat to the integrity of cisgender women playing chess.”
She said: “It raises a lot of questions. Why are trans women banned from women’s chess? What’s the point? Are trans women naturally better at chess? Are we too smart to mess with cis women?
“I personally don’t think I’m smarter than most cis women, nor do I think my pre-transition years gave me any sort of innate advantage in chess, so that shouldn’t not be the case.”
News of the decision comes as the federation hosts a World Cup in Azerbaijan attended by top players, including number one grandmaster Magnus Carlsen of Norway.
The federation has open competitions that allow all players to participate, as well as specialized categories, such as for women, young players and even computers.
It comes after the International Cycling Union joined the governing bodies of athletics and swimming as top-level Olympic sports dealing with the issue of transgender athletes and equity in women’s events.
Last month, the cycling federation ruled that transgender female athletes who have transitioned after male puberty will no longer be able to compete in women’s races.
A FIDE spokesperson said that “the new regulations are intended to clearly define the procedure by which a person who has officially changed their sex can register the fact in the FIDE directory”.
He added that “the absence of such regulations caused ambiguity and therefore an established order was necessary to guarantee the right of transgender players to be properly represented on the official FIDE register”.
A spokesperson continued: “Transgender legislation is developing rapidly in many countries and many sports bodies are adopting their own policies. FIDE will follow these developments and see how we can apply them to the world of chess.
“Two years is a horizon that seemed reasonable for in-depth analyzes of such developments. It is a question of setting a certain deadline for a new reiteration of these policies, without rushing.