The world’s top chess federation has banned all trans women from competing in all-female contests over ‘unfair advantage’ fears.
The new rules from the International Chess Federation (FIDE) state that any player who has transitioned from male to female ‘has no right to participate in official FIDE events for women’ until further analysis, which could take up to two years, is made.
The decision, which was published on Monday and will come into effect on August 21, has drawn criticism from supporters of trans rights who have branded the move as ‘pure bigotry and persecution’, while others called it ‘offensive to women’.
Under the rule change, trans players will still be allowed to compete in open tournaments but not female-only contests – which were introduced to encourage more women into the sport.
Angela Eagle, the Labour MP for Wallasey, wrote: ‘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 & we shouldn’t even be playing – This ban is ridiculous & offensive to women.’
Katy Montgomerie reacted to the rule change angrily, tweeting: ‘In banning trans women from chess the insane anti-trans lobby has fully revealed their hand.
‘They don’t just believe that sex is a non-material immutable binary, they also think that women are intellectually inferior. Which is what we’ve been saying they believe from the start.’
Trans player Yosha Iglesias, who is recognised as female by FIDE, described the federation’s decision as ‘heartbreaking’.
The 35-year-old from France told The Times: ‘There’s no biological advantage whatsoever. It’s not about biology, it’s about sociology, psychology and it’s about sexism, it’s about aggression [from FIDE].
‘They say they are not against trans people, they are fighting to protect women’s sport, even though they don’t care at all about women’s sport.’
Iglesias also tweeted: ‘So FIDE just published (yesterday) a list of anti-trans regulations, like it was ‘the biggest threat of women in chess’.
‘Can someone tell me what qualifies as an official FIDE event? Will I be allowed to play in the French Championship in 3 days? The European Club Cup in September?’
She later wrote: ‘If you want to help women in chess, fight sexist and sexual violence, give women in chess more visibility and more money.
Don’t use trans women 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. Trans 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? This is so insulting to cis women, to trans women, and to the game itself. It assumes that cis women couldn’t be competitive against cis men – and relies on ignorant anti-trans ideas.’