The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has relaxed its policy on transgender athletes, no longer requiring sex reassignment surgery for an athlete to compete in the Olympic Games.
The Associated Press reported on the new IOC guidelines Sunday. According to the AP, the new policy no longer requires surgery for eligibility, leaving no restrictions on female-to-male transgender athletes for Olympic participation.
Male-to-female transgender athletes, meanwhile, no longer need gender reassignment surgery, but do have to show a testosterone level under a certain cutoff barrier for at least a full year before gaining eligibility. That means at least a year of hormone therapy, and more than a year in many cases – the AP report notes that different people see their testosterone levels drop at different rates after starting hormone therapy. An athlete will have to get below the limit before the one-year countdown to eligibility begins.
The old IOC guidelines (adopted in 2003) required both female-to-male and male-to-female transgender athletes to undergo gender reassignment surgery and go through two or more years of hormone therapy.
It should be noted that the IOC guidelines are not strict rules – they are recommendations for each international sports federation to follow in crafting their own specific rules on transgender participation.
The AP reports that IOC officials said they changed the guidelines “to adapt to current scientific, social and legal attitudes on transgender issues.”