June July 2016
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New Olympic Guidelines Won't Require Surgery for Trans Athletes

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Transgender athletes will not have to undergo gender-confirmation surgery to compete in sports according with their identity under new guidelines expected to be adopted by the International Olympic Committee, Outsports reports.

The IOC has not yet made the guidelines publicly available, but Outsports obtained them from “a trusted source,” the site reports in an article published Thursday night. The guidelines came out of a Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism, quietly convened by the IOC last November, and the committee is expected to adopt them before this summer’s Olympics, according to Outsports.

“To require surgical anatomical changes as a pre-condition to participation is not necessary to preserve fair competition and may be inconsistent with developing legislation and notions of human rights,” the guidelines state.

For transgender women to compete in women’s events, the waiting period “goes from two years after surgery [currently] to one year after the start of [hormone therapy],” Joanna Harper, a trans athlete and medical physicist who participated in the meeting, told Outsports via email. “This matches up with the NCAA rules and is as good as anything. The waiting period was perhaps the most contentious item among our group and one year is a reasonable compromise.” The guidelines had required not only surgery but two years of hormone therapy.

Trans women’s testosterone levels will be monitored and must stay below a certain level, according to the guidelines, which also state, “To avoid discrimination, if not eligible for female competition the athlete should be eligible to compete in male competition.”

The guidelines will allow any transgender man to compete in men’s events without restriction. “The new IOC transgender guidelines fix almost all of the deficiencies with the old rules,” Harper said, adding that she hopes other athletic organizations will adopt them.

The document further notes, “These guidelines are a living document and will be subject to review in light of any scientific or medical developments.” To date, no openly trans athlete has ever competed in the Olympics.

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