Restrictions on transgender people taking part in the Olympics are set to be loosened, allowing them to take part without undergoing gender surgery.
Athletics currently has rules governing who can take part in gendered events, preventing trans and intersex people from taking part based on a number of medical factors.
The issue has come into the limelight on a number of occasions, most notably when South African sprinter Caster Semenya was subjected to a ‘gender test’ in 2009.
However, in a bid to resolve some of the issues, the International Olympic Committee is set to adopt a new policy on “Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism”.
A copy of the guidelines leaked by Outsports reveals that all restrictions on trans men taking part in men’s events will be lifted.
Trans women will still face some obstacles to taking part in women’s events, requiring a consistent testosterone level “below 10 nmol/L” – but without restrictions on those who haven’t undergone gender surgery.
The guidelines explain: “It is necessary to ensure insofar as possible that trans athletes are not excluded from the opportunity to participate in sporting competition.
“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.”
It adds: “Those who transition from female to male are eligible to compete in the male category without restriction.”
“Those who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the female category under the following conditions:
“1. The athlete has declared that her gender identity is female. The declaration cannot be changed, for sporting purposes, for a minimum of four years.
“2. The athlete must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to her first competition (with the requirement for any longer period to be based on a confidential case-by-case evaluation, considering whether or not 12 months is a sufficient length of time to minimize any advantage in women’s competition).
“3. The athlete’s total testosterone level in serum must remain below 10 nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.
“4. Compliance with these conditions may be monitored by testing. In the event of non-compliance, the athlete’s eligibility for female competition will be suspended for 12 months.”
Trans medical expert Joanna Harper told Outsports she helped shape the guidelines, adding: “The new IOC transgender guidelines fix almost all of the deficiencies with the old rules.
“Hopefully, organizations such as the ITA will quickly adapt to the new IOC guidelines and all of the outdate trans policies will get replaced soon.”
“The waiting period for trans women goes from two years after surgery to one year after the start of HRT.
“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.”