Last Monday, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) announced new regulations on transgender players, including restrictions on trans women competing in women’s events and stripping trans men of previously won women’s titles. The restrictions went into effect on August 21.
“In the event that the gender was changed from a male to a female, the player has no right to participate in official FIDE events for women until further FIDE’s decision is made,” the federation said. They said they will be taking two years to consider their policy further and that trans people can play in the open section instead of the men’s or women’s in the meantime.
“The transgender legislation is rapidly developing in many countries and many sport bodies are adopting their own policies. FIDE will be monitoring these developments and see how we can apply them to the world of chess,” a FIDE spokesperson wrote to Reuters.
FIDE’s new guidelines state that “change of gender is a change that has a significant impact on a player’s status and future eligibility to tournaments.” While the sports world has been rife with debates over the physical abilities of men and women, chess is a game where athletic ability would not seem to be a factor. FIDE did not comment on how gender identity impacts chess play.
FIDE is putting an emphasis on proving transition with legal documentation, something that is not possible for many transgender people. A birth certificate, passport, national ID, court document, or other “sufficient proof of a gender change that complies with their national laws and regulations” must be provided to have a change of gender in the FIDE system approved. Without sufficient proof, the request for change may be rejected.
If a player holds any women’s title and changes their gender to compete in the men’s, “the women titles are to be abolished.” However, “if a player has changed the gender from a man into a woman, all the previous titles remain eligible.”
“For trans players and especially women, it will do so much unnecessary harm,” wrote openly trans FIDE chess master. “These regulations are also impossible to legally implement in many countries. You can’t just collect the ID, passport, or birth certificate of a targeted group of people. No cis person has to present their ID to get a license and play chess.”
“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.”