Double Olympic medallist Maddie Groves has accused critics of transgender participation in women's competition as "transphobic" ©Getty Images

A transgender row has broken out in Australia with two-time Olympic medallist Maddie Groves disagreeing with the views of fellow swimmers.

Groves, who claimed two silver medals at the Rio 2016 Olympics, took to social media to hit out at "transphobic" critics of transgender athletes competing in women’s sport.

The 26-year-old’s comments came as Australian Olympic gold medallists Dawn Fraser and Emma McKeon said it was unfair for female swimmers to participate against athletes who had transitioned from men to women.

The participation of transgender athletes has become a hot topic in Australia after the country’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed his support of the "Save Women’s Sport" bill before performing a U-turn.

If passed, the legislation, tabled by Liberal Senator Claire Chandler, would allow sporting organisations to ban transgender women from competing in female competitions.

The controversial bill has sparked a big debate in Australia with Groves pledging her support behind transgender athletes.

"To whoever is asking athletes about trans participation in sport, ask them what they specifically think about the current rules," Groves wrote on Twitter.

"If something is apparently 'unfair' but you can’t factually state what or why, is it really unfair or are you just transphobic."

Fraser, who claimed four freestyle gold medals across Melbourne 1956, Rome 1960 and Tokyo 1964, said that she did not think it was "fair to have transgender men competing against women".

"Why don’t transgender people compete against each other?" Fraser told the Daily Telegraph.

"That would solve all the problems."

McKeon, a five-time Olympic gold medallist who earned four titles at Tokyo 2020, has also waded into the debate.

The 27-year-old conceded that swimming would need to "deal with" the issue of transgender participation because it was "just not fair".

"I don’t think I’m going to have to race against a trans swimmer, I don't think it's going to come to that point," said McKeon.

"But now that it's a growing thing, the sport has to think about how to handle it and how to deal with it, because you do want to be inclusive, but you don't want to have females racing against swimmers who are biologically male because it's just not fair."

Five-time Olympic champion Emma McKeon admitted swimming needed to settle the debate over transgender inclusion ©Getty Images
Five-time Olympic champion Emma McKeon admitted swimming needed to settle the debate over transgender inclusion ©Getty Images

Swimming Australia President Tracy Stockwell said the national governing body would consider "both inclusive and fair policies" when it discusses the matter at a Board meeting next month.

"It’s complicated, it’s emotional, it’s divisive, depending on people’s views," said Stockwell.

"I respect everyone’s opportunity to have their view on it so we will be liaising and have spoken to FINA [the International Swimming Federation] about doing more research and coming up with an international policy.

"I think that's the important thing, we want to be inclusive, but we also want to be fair.

"And the big question is, how do we do that?"

Last month, Lia Thomas made history in the United States by becoming the first transgender athlete to win a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I title.

Thomas triumphed in the women’s 500 yards freestyle event, beating Olympic medallists Emma Weyant and Erica Sullivan.

Lia Thomas became the first transgender athlete to win a NCAA Division I title last month ©Getty Images
Lia Thomas became the first transgender athlete to win a NCAA Division I title last month ©Getty Images

Under NCAA rules, Thomas is allowed to compete in women's events as she has completed the necessary one year of testosterone-suppression treatment.

Thomas competed for two full seasons on the men's team prior to fully transitioning, before switching to the women's in 2021 but her participation has been heavily criticised.

Cynthia Millen resigned as an official at USA Swimming last December after 30 years at the national governing body in protest of Thomas participating in the sport.

Millen accused Thomas of "destroying women’s swimming" in an interview with Fox News following her resignation.

Thomas has also received support, with more than 300 current and former NCAA and US Olympic swimmers signing a letter in February defending her inclusion.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) encouraged International Federations to devise their own regulations, claiming an overarching policy would not be effective due to the differing characteristics and safety deliberations each sport has to make.

The IOC's updated framework, published in November last year, said there should be "no presumption of performance advantage”.