Trans women barred from female chess matches as global body imposes curbs

Trans women barred from female chess matches as global body imposes curbs

A chess pawn on a chessboard is being moved at the Rechapados Ferrer factory in La Garriga, north of Barcelona, Spain, February 11, 2021. — Reuters

International Chess Federation or FIDE has decided to bar trans women from participating in women’s chess matches, a move that attracted a backlash from several international players and advocacy groups.

The federation said: “Change of gender is a change that has a significant impact on a player’s status and future eligibility to tournaments, therefore it can only be made if there is relevant proof of the change provided.”

“In the event that the gender was changed from a male to a female the player has no right to participate in official Fide events for women until further Fide’s decision is made,” it added.

The Switzerland-based global chess governing body stated that individual cases would require “further analysis” and that a decision could take up to two years.

Different sports and regulators were attempting to make policies for transgender players as they require comparable physical activity. However, it is otherwise with chess.

A trans woman professional chess player Yosha Iglesias said that the policy would lead to “unnecessary harm” for trans players and women.

Iglesias, who is also a holder of the FIDE rank of a chess master, added that “this appalling situation will lead to depression and suicide attempts.”

Woman Grandmaster and Two-time US Women’s Champion Jennifer Shahade also lashed out at the curbs announced by the FIDE, stating that the policy was “ridiculous and dangerous”.

Shahade said: “It’s obvious they didn’t consult with any transgender players in constructing it… I strongly urge FIDE to reverse course on this and start from scratch with better consultants.”

“There is no physical advantage in chess unless you believe men are inherently more able to play than women — I spent my chess career being told women’s brains were smaller than men’s and we shouldn’t even be playing,” UK MP Angela Eagle stated.

“This ban is ridiculous and offensive to women,” she said, who was a winner of the 1976 British Girls’ Under-18 chess championship.

FIDE maintained in its decision that trans men who had won women’s titles before transitioning would see their titles abolished.

According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), chess is classified as a sport.

Last month, the UCI that governs the world’s cycling decided to prohibit transgender women from taking part in women’s events.

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