Yosha Iglesias has become the first transgender player to earn the title of Woman International Master (WIM) in chess. Her achievement comes months after the game’s regulating body announced new transphobic restrictions, and the organization has yet to officially approve her title.
WIM is the second highest title in women’s chess, behind Woman Grandmaster. Speaking to Chess.com, Iglesias explained that she long knew she had what it takes to fulfill the requirements. “When I began my transition in early 2021, I was already an FM with a rating still above 2250,” she said. “I naively thought that becoming a WIM would be more or less a formality, and that the hardest part was changing my gender both legally and at FIDE.”
In August, FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs) announced new restrictions for transgender players, saying they had “no right to participate” in women’s categories. After securing an updated ID, the FIDE Council would take up to two years for “further analysis” deciding the player’s eligibility.
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“He died in my arms,” Blagovich said.
“You can’t just collect the ID, passport, or birth certificate of a targeted group of people,” Iglesias pointed out at the time. “No cis person has to present their ID to get a license and play chess.”
The new regulations were criticized heavily for suggesting that men have an intellectual advantage over women.
The decision came weeks after the chess competition world was rocked by allegations of sexist behavior and abuse—at the hands of cis men. Iglesias was one of over 150 female players who signed a letter reporting such behavior.
Iglesias was initially discouraged by FIDE’s new regulations. But she has credited her mentor Annemarie Meier, a fellow transgender player who won the German Women’s Chess Championship in 2003, with inspiring her to go after the title.
In the short time since earning the title, Iglesias has already witnessed the impact on other trans players. “For me, it’s a life achievement,” she told Erin in the Morning. “And it turned out that I had underestimated the impact on trans players and also trans non-players. I’ve received so many lovely messages. One of the most moving was from a trans player who told me she had quit chess to transition but that my story inspired her to return to competition.”
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