Chess federation bans trans women competing against women

The International Chess Federation (FIDE) has sparked controversy with a new policy that prohibits transgender women from participating in women’s chess events. In a surprising move, FIDE declared that individuals transitioning “from a male to a female” will be temporarily barred from women’s chess competitions until further notice, a decision that may remain in effect for up to two years.

The exact rationale behind this policy shift, which has been incorporated into the FIDE handbook, has not been explicitly stated by the governing body of international chess. The updated guidelines indicate that the decision is pending further analysis and will be reviewed by the FIDE council within a timeframe of no more than two years.

Under the revised regulations, transgender men who achieved titles during the pre-transition period in women’s tournaments will have their accomplishments revoked. These “abolished women titles” could potentially be converted into general titles of the same or lower tier. On the contrary, trans women who secured titles in men’s events will be permitted to retain their titles without any alteration.

Critics have swiftly voiced their concerns over the FIDE’s policy change. Yosha Iglesias, a French chess coach and FIDE Master titleholder, characterized the updated guidelines as “anti-trans regulations.” The move has prompted questions about the definition of an official FIDE event and the potential consequences for participation in events like the French Championship and the European Club Cup.

Trans writer Ana Valens of The Mary Sue raised questions about the policy’s implications, suggesting that the FIDE’s decision treats trans women as a threat to cisgender women’s integrity in chess. Valens emphasized the need to understand the reasoning behind the ban and challenged the idea that trans women possess inherent advantages in chess.

The policy revision also grants the FIDE the authority to disclose a player’s gender identity to event organizers. This provision has raised concerns over the potential outing of transgender players during competitions. FIDE has outlined a requirement for players to present gender identity consistent with their identity in non-chess aspects of life, validated by national authorities through a legal process.

Earlier this year, a male player disguised himself in a burqa and entered a women’s competition. He was found out because he went on a winning streak.

In addition to the gender-related policy change, the FIDE updated its regulations regarding FIDE ID numbers (FIN), essential for participating in chess tournaments. However, obtaining a new FIN is now significantly challenging, necessitating approval by a national rating officer.

Chess federation mirrors recent moves made by several other federations, albeit those organizations were all tied to sports where strength attributes and bone density make all the difference.

 British rowing restricted women’s events to biologically female athletes. World Aquatics are creating an “open category” for transgender swimmers in order to better protect female athletes.