FIDE Sparks Criticism With Controversial New Transgender Policy

FIDE Sparks Criticism With Controversial New Transgender Policy


FIDE has come under heavy criticism after publishing a new policy that states that transgender women are banned from taking part in official female-only events until the federation conducts “further analysis” that can last up to two years.

The chess governing body said in a new “Policy on Transgender Chess Players”, published on Monday and taking effect on August 21, that an increasing amount of recognition requests have been received from players who identify themselves as transgender. 

“Change of gender is a change that has a significant impact on a player’s status and future eligibility to tournaments, therefore it can only be made if there is a relevant proof of the change provided,” FIDE said.

Players will have to provide documentation that the gender change complies with national laws and regulations through their own federation. It then has to be confirmed “in writing that the player is familiar with the restrictions established by these regulations and undertakes to comply with them.”

FIDE says that the participation of transgender women in female-only events would then depend on “further analysis” in a process that can take up to two years. No restrictions are made for a player who has changed gender and wants to play in open events.

The regulations also state that if a titled woman changes their gender to male, their women’s titles will be abolished. If a titled man changes their gender, “all previous titles remain eligible.”

They state:

FIDE recognizes that this is an evolving issue for chess and that besides technical regulations on transgender regulations further policy may need to be evolved in the future in line with research evidence. 

The new policy has drawn worldwide media attention and sparked furious reactions on social media. Two-time U.S. Women’s Champion WGM Jennifer Shahade called it “ridiculous and dangerous” in a statement provided to

FIDE’s transgender policy is ridiculous and dangerous. It’s obvious they didn’t consult with any transgender players in constructing it. It’s also sinister timing that this comes out just as chess is finally reckoning with sexual assault and harassment in chess highlighting the links between misogyny and transphobia. I strongly urge FIDE to reverse course on this and start from scratch with better consultants.

Another reaction came from FM Yosha Iglesias, who went through a transition process in 2021, and is currently playing in the French Women’s Championship. In a series of posts on X/Twitter, she raises serious questions about the regulations, pointing out that a transgender girl who has gone through a transition and legally changed her gender would no longer be authorized to do the same. 

“The new regulations will make trans chess players all over the world face a horrible dilemma: transition or quit chess. This appalling situation will lead to depression and suicide attempts.”

She received support from The National Center for Transgender Equality, a U.S.-based advocacy group.

FIDE states that while they they won’t discuss a player’s gender change publicly, they hold the right “to inform the organizers and other relevant parties on the gender change”. The regulations state:

“FIDE has the right to make an appropriate mark in the Players’ database and/or use other measures to inform organizers on a player being a transgender, so that to prevent them from possible illegitimate enrollments in tournaments.” [sic]

Iglesias thinks the policy would face legal difficulties 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.”

The German Chess Federation agreed with Iglesias, and said in a statement that they guarantee that trans women will be allowed to participate in German tournaments for women.

“We have serious concerns that these new FIDE rules are compatible with the legal situations in several countries. If a person is legally recognised as a woman, it is incomprehensible to us what FIDE still wants to check and why it needs two years for this – as stipulated in the new rules.”

Jen Shahade, U.S. Women's Open organizer Janelle Losoff and Charlotte Clymer, Photo Tim Hanks
Jen Shahade, U.S. Women’s Open organizer Janelle Losoff and Charlotte Clymer. Photo: Tim Hanks

The policy has also been heavily debated by trans activists on Twitter in the last few days. LGBT rights Katy Montgomerie posted a long thread that has received millions of views.

Charlotte Clymer, a writer, army veteran, social media influencer and U.S. Chess member from Charlotte, wrote: commentator IM Jovanka Houska urged FIDE to reconsider.

The presence of transgender athletes has been a controversial issue in sports for years. World Aquatics recently implemented a new open category which will welcome “swimmers of all sex and gender identities” after having restricted most transgender athletes from competing in elite women’s aquatics competitions, according to CNN.

The International Cycling Union last month ruled that female transgender athletes who transitioned after male puberty will not be able to compete in women’s races, according to The Guardian.

Popular streamer Julesgambit pointed out that the same physical element, the main argument which is used for restricting transgender women from competing in female-only events, is not present in chess.

FIDE is yet to respond to criticism of the new policy.


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