Transgender Athletes Now Allowed To Compete In Olympics Even Without Gender Reassignment Surgery

The International Olympic Committee has reportedly adopted a new policy that would allow transgender athletes the ability to compete in the Olympics even if the athlete has not had gender reassignment surgery. The policy was proposed at the committee’s “Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism.” The new policy would be aligned with current NCAA policies regarding transgender athletes.

Transgender athletes
The International Olympic committee recently proposed an update to transgender athlete policy. [Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]
The Daily Mail reports that transgender athletes may have the chance to compete with the gender that they identify with starting this year. Though transgender athletes have been able to compete with their identifying gender in the past, previously they were required to have undergone gender reassignment surgery to qualify. However, a new policy discussed at the “Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism” with the International Olympic Committee, transgender athletes would no longer need to have gender reassignment surgery to compete.

Transgender athletes in the Olympics.
Will transgender athletes that have not had gender reassignment surgery be allowed to compete in 2016? [Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images]
Instead any transgender athlete that has been on hormone replacement therapy for at least one year will be allowed to compete with the gender of which they identify. Therefore, gender reassignment surgery is no longer considered a requirement for potential transgender Olympians. According to ESPN, the new policy which the International Olympic Committee has placed on their website but has not officially been adopted falls in line with the current NCAA policies regarding gender identification.

“If formally adopted, the potential rules update would bring the Olympics in line with the standards already employed by the NCAA in the United States by allowing both male-to-female and female-to-male transgender athletes to compete without having had surgery.”

The Olympic Committee has long held that transgender athletes have the right to compete; however, classifying what gender a person should compete has been difficult. However, during the Stockholm Consensus in 2004, the Olympics Committee ruled that “transgender athletes had to have gender reassignment surgery; they must have legal recognition of the gender they were assigned at birth; and they had to have undergone at least two years of hormone replacement therapy after surgery.” The new restrictions would remove the requirements of gender reassignment surgery and lower the length of time hormone replacement therapy is needed. Instead of requiring transgender athletes to have undergone hormone replacement therapy for two years, the new policy would only require one year of therapy to qualify for competition in the gender of which the athlete identifies.

Beijing 2022 Olympics
Guidelines may soon be very different for transgender athletes. [Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images]
Though the guidelines are being lowered regarding gender identification, the committee also notes that “rules should be in place to protect women” and to “the principles of fair competition.” In other words, the committee will be monitoring the testosterone levels of woman who have transitioned from men to ensure that they are not an an unfair advantage. However, this also applies to athletes born as woman who have elevated levels of testosterone in the body. The policy is noted as a hyperandrogenism regulation in which the rules note that if women have elevated levels of testosterone that do not meet guidelines, for the sake of not being discriminatory, they will be able to compete with males.

“Rules should be in place for the protection of women in sport and the promotion of the principles of fair competition. The IAAF, with support from other International Federations, National Olympic Committees and other sports organisations, is encouraged to revert to CAS with arguments and evidence to support the reinstatement of its hyperandrogenism rules. To avoid discrimination, if not eligible for female competition the athlete should be eligible to compete in male competition.”

Many transgender athletes are excited about the new ruling saying that the new guidelines “fix almost all of the deficiencies with old rules.” What do you think about the new regulations allowed transgender athletes that ability to compete even without having went through gender reassignment surgery?

[Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images]