Swedish gymnastics to let youths choose their own gender category

Young Swedish transgender gymnasts will be allowed to compete in whatever class they want, following a new decision by the Swedish Gymnastics Federation.

Swedish gymnastics to let youths choose their own gender category
The new rules won't apply to senior athletes. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The decision was reached after the federation had done a “deep-dive in the issue around gender identity and gender expression” over the summer, the organisation said.

“Specifically, for our training and competition activities the decision means that you are welcome to train in whatever group you yourself choose no matter your legal gender, gender identity or expression,” the federation said in a statement.

Transgender teenagers would also be free to compete in the class of their own choosing, up to and including the junior national level, which falls between 13 and 18 years old depending on the discipline.

Speaking to daily Dagens Nyheter, the organisation said the new rules would not apply to senior athletes as they would need to adapt to international rules.

The gymnastics federation is the first national sports body to heed a call from the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Rights (RFSL), which in October issued a report on transgender people in sports, focusing on children and young people.

According to RFSL, transgender youths felt excluded in many sports and the rights group said other sports bodies were preparing to adopt new guidelines to be more “inclusive,” including the football association and skating association.

The gymnastics federation said the issue had been on the agenda for a while but also added that there hadn't been many enquiries from individuals or groups, which was “one of the reason the issue had been in focus.”

“The reason we haven't received many questions about this is probably because we have had a system/structure that has led to individuals choosing to quit early as they haven't felt that there is room for them and therefore the issue never even reached us,” Pelle Malmborg, secretary general of the federation, said in a statement.

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