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Trans women banned from competing in FIDE women’s chess tournaments

Regulations labelled “discriminatory” by chess official.

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Image credit: Steve Buissinne/Pixabay

An international chess federation has banned trans women from competing in women’s chess competitions.

The regulations were approved by FIDE, an international chess governing body, in a council meeting earlier this month. (Thanks New York Times.) A publicly available document outlining the newly introduced regulations states that, after FIDE and its member federations found it had “often” received recognition request from members who identify as trans, it needed to address the “evolving issue” of trans people competing in its high-level chess competitions.

As a result of the regulations, trans players will be required to provide “sufficient proof of gender change to complies with their national laws and regulations” due to the federation’s belief that a “change in gender is a change that has a significant impact on a player’s tatus and future eligibility to tournaments.” Trans players who cannot provide “sufficient proof of gender change” may have their application to have their gender recognition rejected by the federation.

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On top of this, FIDE has also placed restrictions on specifically trans women participating in its high-level chess tournaments. The regulation document states that “in the event that the gender [of a competitor] was changed from male to female the player has no right to participate in official FIDE events for women until FIDE’s decision is made.”

FIDE has confirmed that the “further analysis” apparently required to make a new decision on the matter could take up to two years, with no guarantee that trans women will be able to compete in women’s chess tournaments. There will be “no restrictions to play in the open section for a person who has changed gender.”

The federation has not provided any information regarding whether trans men will be banned from playing in men’s chess tournaments, reserving its restrictions purely against trans women.

If a trans man has acquired any chess titles in the time before they transitioned, any women’s titles will be abolished – with the title being transferred into a general title of the same or lower level. On the other hand, if a trans woman holds titles from any women’s chess events they will remain eligible – once again highlighting the differing treatment towards players of certain gender identities.

Malcolm Pein, director of international chess at the English Chess Federation, commented that the organisation he directs is “opposed to it because it is discriminatory,” as there is “no intrinsic value to being a woman or a man when it comes to playing chess.” The director also confirmed that there would be “no change” regarding trans women's right to play in events hosted by the “English Chess Federation.” [New York Times]

Yosha Iglesias, a transgender woman who plays chess, responded to the changes on X – formerly known as Twitter – in a thread that highlighted the negative effect the regulations would have trans women and girls playing chess. Iglesias commented that “the new regulations will make trans chess players all over the world face a horrible dilemma: transition or quit chess […] for trans players and especially women, it will do so much unnecessary harm. To cis players, it will bring no good whatsoever.”

Furthermore, Iglesias highlighted that if FIDE wants to “help women in chess, fight sexist and sexual violence,” then the organisation should “give women in chess more visibility and more money,” - rather than “use trans women players as scapegoats.”

“We contribute to the development of women in chess. We are women in chess,” Iglesias concluded.

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Alex Meehan avatar
Alex Meehan: After writing for Kotaku UK, Waypoint and Official Xbox Magazine, Alex became a member of the Dicebreaker editorial family. Having been producing news, features, previews and opinion pieces for Dicebreaker for the past three years, Alex has had plenty of opportunity to indulge in her love of meaty strategy board games and gothic RPGS. Besides writing, Alex appears in Dicebreaker’s D&D actual play series Storybreakers and haunts the occasional stream on the Dicebreaker YouTube channel.
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