The International Chess Federation known as FIDE has banned men from competing in women’s events, at least for a couple of years. It declared that male players who have shifted to identifying as female have “no right to participate” in events designated for women.
The BBC reports the decision will stand, at least until the ruling body has completed an extensive review of the issue. The Switzerland-based organisation says it has seen a spike in requests from transgender players wanting to take part in women’s competitions. As a result, it will conduct a “thorough analysis”, which could take more than two years.
The move has been criticised by some female chess masters who told the BBC it was “ridiculous” and “offensive to women.” Most critics note that chess does not require the physical strength and agility of most other sports. Chess is classified as a sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Advocate for women’s sport Riley Gaines Barker welcomed the decision for its fairness. “The whole point of a women’s category is that it’s meant for women, and to have men compete in it is still having spots taken away from women. The women’s chess category was created for a reason and they’re upholding that. So I applaud the chess association for the decision and really prioritising fairness, prioritising what it means to be a woman,” she said.
Faithwire reports that moving forward, those who hold women’s titles would see those designations “abolished” should they shift to identifying as male. However, FIDE said it would hold out on the possibility of reinstatement “if the person changes their gender back to a woman. If a player has changed their gender from a man into a woman, all the previous titles remain eligible.” The federation noted that questions centering on transgenderism are an “evolving issue for chess” and that “further policy may need to be evolved in the future in line with research evidence.”