IOC Loosens Guidelines on Transgender Athletes

Surgery will no longer be required
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 26, 2016 1:41 AM CST
IOC Loosens Guidelines on Transgender Athletes
IOC medical director Richard Budgett speaks to the AP.   (Vincent Thian)

Transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in the Olympics and other international events without undergoing sex reassignment surgery, according to new guidelines adopted by the International Olympic Committee. IOC medical officials say they changed the policy to adapt to current scientific, social, and legal attitudes on transgender issues. The guidelines are designed as recommendations—not rules or regulations—for international sports federations and other bodies to follow and should apply for this year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. "I don't think many federations have rules on defining eligibility of transgender individuals," the IOC's medical director tells the AP. "This should give them the confidence and stimulus to put these rules in place."

Under the previous guidelines, introduced in 2003, athletes who transitioned from male to female or vice versa were required to have reassignment surgery followed by at least two years of hormone therapy in order to be eligible to compete. Now surgery will no longer be required, with female-to-male transgender athletes eligible to take part in men's competitions "without restriction." Meanwhile, male-to-female transgender athletes will need to demonstrate that their testosterone level has been below a certain cutoff point for at least one year before their first competition. "The overriding sporting objective is and remains the guarantee of fair competition," the IOC said in a document posted on its website explaining the new guidelines. (Read more Olympic Games stories.)

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