Medical officials from the International Olympic Committee announced on Sunday that new policy would affect transgender athletes. The IOC said the new policy is to allow transgender athletes to compete without regard to any gender confirmation surgeries. These are recommendations, not rules, (for other organizations, including international sports federations) to follow, but they will go into effect for this year’s summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
IOC medical director Dr Richard Budgett said, “I don’t think many federations have rules on defining eligibility of transgender individuals. This should give them the confidence and stimulus to put these rules in place.”
The rules aren’t uniform for men’s and women’s categories, however. Trans men will be allowed to compete in men’s competitions “without restriction,” but trans women must prove that their testosterone has been below 10 nanomols per liter for at least a year prior to competition. Previous guidelines from 2003 required gender confirmation surgery and two years of hormone treatment.
The guidelines were a result of a “Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism” meeting in November 2015 in Lausanne, Switzerland; the meeting was not announced. Though the guidelines have not yet been widely distributed by IOC, OutSports.com received the new guidelines from “a trusted source.”
The question of gender verification became a global issue in 2009 when South African runner Caster Semenya was forced to submit to sex tests after winning the 800m world title; she was approved to compete and went on to win silver at the London Olympics in 2012.