Jan 27, 2016
IOC Says: Surgery Not Required for Trans Athletes

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has set new guidelines that will allow transgender athletes to compete in the Olympics and other international contests without gender reassignment surgery. According to an Associated Press article posted at sanluisobispo.com, the new recommendations allow women transitioning to men to compete without restriction. Men transitioning to women will need to fall under a limit for testosterone levels.

This is a change from guidelines set in 2003, wherein trans competitors would be required to undergo two years of hormone therapy in addition to the surgery. Now, men transitioning to women will need to provide documentation that their testosterone levels have been below 10 for a year.

The IOC posted a document to its website stating the following:

“It is necessary to ensure insofar as possible that trans athletes are not excluded from the opportunity to participate in sporting competition. The overriding sporting objective is and remains the guarantee of fair competition. To require surgical anatomical changes as a precondition to participation is not necessary to preserve fair competition and may be inconsistent with developing legislation and notions of human rights.”

While not official regulations, the recommendations are meant to provide guidance for international sports federations and other organizations when defining their own rules. The new position came after a meeting of medical professionals and Olympic officials in November.

“This is a scientific consensus paper, not a rule or regulation,” IOC medical director Dr. Richard Budgett said. “It is the advice of the medical and scientific commission and what we consider the best advice.”

Former IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist was among the experts consulted. He said that changes in the political and cultural climate, as well as scientific advances, influenced the change.

“It has become much more of a social issue than in the past,” he told the AP. “We had to review and look into this from a new angle. We needed to adapt to the modern legislation around the world. We felt we cannot impose a surgery if that is no longer a legal requirement.

“Those cases are very few, but we had to answer the question,” he added. “It is an adaptation to a human rights issue. This is an important matter. It’s a trend of being more flexible and more liberal.”



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