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Former world champion swimmer Danni Miatke warns FINA ban on transgender athletes will impact a ‘marginalised’ community for decades

by ZwemZa on June 23rd, 2022

Danni Miatke won gold in the women’s 50m butterfly at the Commonwealth Games in 2006. (Getty Images: Robert Cianflone)

Former world champion swimmer Danni Miatke says she is “infuriated” by FINA’s controversial ruling that effectively bans transwomen from elite competition.

Miatke, who won gold in the 50m butterfly at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, said she rejected the idea that banning transwomen from participation was about prioritising “fairness” over “inclusion”.

“This isn’t about fairness, because fairness is inclusivity,” she told ABC Sport.

“We’re talking about not just Australia’s, but the world’s most marginalised people. We should be doing everything we can to uplift and support them.”

Miatke, who identifies as a member of the LGBTQI+ community, said she was also disappointed that Dolphins captain Cate Campbell had spoken publicly in support of the ban.

“I understand the difficult position that Cate is in, as a media personality, and as someone who was asked to give evidence to FINA,” she said.

“But sportspeople are pillars of Australian communities in terms of setting the moral standard of what we will accept.

Miatke, who now works as a pharmacist in a Melbourne-based hospital, added that it was only with the hindsight of retirement that she had come to understand the critical role sport plays in shaping social norms.

“I’ll be really honest, I didn’t have this perspective when I was an athlete,” the 34-year-old said.

“They teach you to be really selfish, because how else can you justify spending 60 hours in a pool a week?

“But I think if you’re going to comment [on an issue like this], you need to educate yourself about the impact of those decisions beyond you as an individual.”

Miatke added that she was sick of gender equality being used as an excuse to exclude trans and gender diverse people from sport.

“You can’t say you’re a feminist if you’re transphobic, that’s nonsense,” said Miatke.

“Feminism stands for equality for everybody, not just cisgender women. In talking about transwomen, we are talking about women.”

Groves, Dryden also speak out against FINA ban

Miatke is not the only former swimmer to have spoken out against the ban in recent days, with Maddie Groves responding angrily to Cate Campbell’s claim that her stance on the FINA decision came from a place of “acceptance” for gender diverse people.

Groves made headlines last year when she withdrew from Olympic trials, citing a culture of misogyny within Australian swimming.

She has since also spoken to the ABC about allegedly being sexually abused by someone who works in the sport.

On Tuesday, she was joined by former Canadian Olympic swimmer Nikki Dryden, now a human rights lawyer, who told Radio National’s Patricia Karvelas that she believed the ban was unconstitutional.

“There’s no way this [ban] could stand up internationally under human rights rules,” Dryden told Karvelas.

Dryden added that it was problematic that FINA was yet to reveal who made up the “taskforce” behind the bombshell decision.

“We haven’t got to see any of the names from this supposed taskforce, either the scientists or the human rights consultants,” Dryden said.

“The reference to ‘science’ is really flawed, because when you read [the policy] they keep comparing men to women… but we’re not talking about men vs women, we’re talking about trans or intersex women and [cis] women.”

Two women hold trophies while standing in front of a blue backdrop
Lia Thomas has been caught in the heated debate around transgender participation in sport. (Getty Images: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire.)

Dryden went on to claim that those who voted on the policy had less than 15 minutes to read and make a final decision on it.

“FINA did this 40-minute presentation and they had all these people speak, including Cate Campbell; they didn’t even have the policy in front of them during that presentation,” she said.

“It’s a 24-page policy that’s highly technical. The whole thing even around how it got passed by the federations is going to be challenged.”

Dryden also went on to question the notion that sport must be “fair”.

“I was never trained to care about the person in the next lane and whether or not they were competing fairly. We were trained to swim in our own lanes and do the best we could do.

“This policing of all women’s bodies in order to stop really just one swimmer [in Lia Thomas] just don’t stand up when you start looking at it in more detail.”

On this point, Miatke said she agreed that difference was a fundamental part of what made competition special.

“The real beauty of us as humans, especially when you’re looking at international sport, is the differences between us,” she said.

“If we were all cookie cutter, carbon copies of each other, that takes away all the excitement, the motivation, the inspiration and differentiation in what we do in any part of our lives, let alone elite sport.”

By Kate O’Halloran | ABC.net.au

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