GENEVA – A high international chess official on Friday referred to as for extra analysis into whether or not components akin to hormone ranges and bodily endurance would possibly have an effect on gamers’ talents on the sport, which has historically been and stays dominated by males.
The world chess federation FIDE stirred controversy with its determination, introduced this week and set to take impact Monday, to ban transgender ladies from its official occasions for girls till the federation makes an evaluation of the problem.
Critics have derided what they name an pointless and “discriminatory policy” that seems to foster “trans panic,” with one former British ladies’s champion calling for the world federation to reverse its determination.
Dana Reizniece-Ozola, the deputy chair of the federation’s administration board, insisted that the aim of the brand new rules was “actually to increase the rights of the transgender persons and allow them being registered under their new gender” in its official listing.
Tournaments just for ladies had been created within the Nineteen Seventies as a method to foster their participation in a sport that has lengthy been dominated by males. Even now solely 2% of all gamers — and 10% of rated gamers — are ladies, she stated.
The brand new rules, which might topic transgender ladies to a ready interval of as much as two years as the problem is examined, was geared toward giving FIDE a “grace period” to kind out the matter of transgender gamers and males’s dominance within the sport.
“What is still not clear is if the hormonal levels do influence the competitiveness in chess,” she said by video from Latvia’s capital, Riga. “There is no serious research or scientific analysis that would prove one or the other way. There are speculations, but no more than that.”
Many sports activities involving intense bodily exercise — which chess doesn’t — have been grappling with methods to formulate insurance policies towards transgender athletes lately.
Cathy Renna, communications director for the U.S. Nationwide LGBTQ Job Drive, stated the brand new guidelines seemed to be “a case of ‘trans panic’ with no justification, not grounded in reality and once again marginalizing trans people.”
Reizniece-Ozola stated FIDE, like different sports activities organizations, must stability equality — offering rights to each particular person to compete on an equal foundation — and truthful competitors. “This is the aspect that really needs more and more research, scientifically based research,” she said.
“Even though it’s not a physical sport, you need some endurance working on the chess game for four or sometimes four or five and more hours in a longer period of time,” said Reizniece-Ozola, who is a former Latvian finance minister.
Culture, she said, was “probably” the principle motive that ladies had been much less lively in chess “because chess has not been regarded as a sport that is appropriate for women in so many cultures. So that … has created this huge gender gap.”
The muse of chess, which she referred to as an “intellectual sport,” is equal: “I mean, there is no difference between men and women at the intellectual part. But still, we see that the statistical data show the differences between men and women.”
The federation has open competitions that allow all players to take part, as well as specialized categories, such as for young players and even computers.
Malcolm Pein, director of international chess at the English Chess Federation, said research has been going on for over a half-century into “what makes chess players better,” and he believes “the biological differences don’t account for very much.”
“There may be, you know, tiny differences to do with stamina maybe, and maybe there’s some suggestion of a difference in competitiveness at an early age,” Pein said in a phone interview. “But genuinely, we think that the disparity in playing strength and level between male and female players is due to the participation levels — which are improving since ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ (TV series).”
A transgender woman has been selected to play chess for England, and a transgender woman participated in the British championships last month, Pein said, adding that the small differences “don’t justify a discriminatory policy.”
Within the English chess expertise, that is fixing an issue that doesn’t exist,” he stated. “Transgender people have been competing very quietly, very happily for a long time with no issues. And we regard the latest developments as unwelcome.”
Chess federations and a few ladies gamers throughout Europe additionally voiced their opposition to the brand new rules.
Germany’s chess federation tweeted that it was “incomprehensible” that FIDE “still wants to check” the gender standing of individuals legally acknowledged as ladies in their very own international locations.
Worldwide chess grasp Jovanka Houska, a nine-time British ladies’s champion, wrote on X: “Please, FIDE can you reconsider these anti-trans regulations. There is no shame in backtracking and consulting afresh with trans women and women so that the chess world moves forward with fairness.”
“Together, we can create a progressive, fair and welcoming space for everyone,” she added.
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