Should gender be taken into account in a purely intellectual discipline? From August 21, the participation of transgender women in high-level women’s competitions will be subject to a request for authorization examined on a case-by-case basis. A decision taken by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) considered to be disconcerting to say the least.
“In case the gender has been changed from male to female, the player has no right to participate in women’s events until a new decision by FIDE is made”can we read in a press release published on August 14 and which caused a reaction across the Atlantic. The validation process could take up to two years, specifies the organization. In the meantime, transgender women can only compete in mixed tournaments.
FIDE says it is receiving more and more requests for recognition from members who identify as transgender. Hence the need to review its regulations, she said.
“A gender change is a change that has a significant impact on a player’s status and future tournament eligibility, so it can only be made if relevant proof of the change is provided.”, justifies the FIDE, citing for example a birth certificate and an identity document in conformity with the gender felt. The organization ensures that it “will recognize an individual’s gender identity if it is consistent with the identity they hold in their life [courante] and which has been confirmed by the national authorities within the framework of a legal and formal change”.
This new regulation does not apply to transgender men. Note that there are no chess competitions reserved for men: the tournaments are either mixed or female. The reason ? Mixed championships are almost exclusively contested by men. The women’s category has therefore been designed to encourage women to invest in a discipline that has historically been very masculine. In 2018, women represented only 20% of the licensees of the French Chess Federation.
But some players denounce a perverse effect: encouraged to play on the women’s circuit, women rarely face men. However, given that the players are much more numerous than the female players, there is more chance of being confronted with very good players in the mixed category than in the female category.
” Scapegoats “
In its press release dated August 14, FIDE specifies however that, concerning transgender men, the latter will be stripped of all the titles they would have obtained in the female category before their transition. The only way to regain them: the person will have to prove to the Federation that they have “detransitioned” (that is to say that they have returned to their initial gender, the one igned at birth). Transgender women will be allowed to keep all their titles won before their transition.
Several voices were raised to criticize FIDE’s decision. “FIDE seems to imply that trans women[genres] would be unfairly advantaged over cis women[genres] intellectually, as if being igned a male gender identity at birth makes you innately more intelligent”denounces the American feminist site Jezebelwhich refers to a regulation “shitty and sectarian”. The article also points to the lack of consistency linked to the difference in treatment depending on whether one is a transgender woman or a transgender man.
Jezebel also recalls the existence of numerous controversies concerning the place of transgender athletes in high-level sports competitions. The argument invoked, and nevertheless questionable, being that transgender women would have an unfair biological advantage in strength and speed over cisgender women. The reasoning is all the less audible “in the field of chess, where the physical has no place. It’s a strategy game.”underlines the article.
“I don’t think I’m smarter than most cis women, nor do I think my pre-transition years gave me any sort of innate edge in chess”points out Ana Valens, transgender journalist and chess player, on the site The Mary Sue.
“Le Monde” deciphers the news and the challenges of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“Will I be allowed to compete in the French Championship in three days? The European Cup (…) in September ? »for her part, was worried on X (formerly Twitter) transgender player Yosha Iglesias. In another message posted on the social network, Yosha Iglesias urged the Federation not to make transgender women ” scapegoats “. “We contribute to the development of women in chess”she adds.