will 2016 be the year of trans olympians?

New guidelines mean athletes can compete without having to undergoing gender reassignment surgery.

by Alice Newell-Hanson
Jan 25 2016, 6:15pm

Former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner may be one of the most visible transgender people in the media (and NO ONE is going to take her gold medal away from her). But, to date, no openly transgender athlete has ever qualified for the Olympic Games.

Thanks to a new set of guidelines, though, that could be about to change — and possibly in time for Rio.

Until Sunday, transgender athletes wishing to compete in the Olympics were required to undergo gender reassignment surgery and two years of hormone therapy. Now, a new document published by the International Olympic Committee advises that female-to-male athletes should be able to compete "without restrictions" and male-to-female athletes will only have to wait for one year of hormone therapy before being eligible to participate.

Why are there stricter conditions for MTF athletes? The IOC's intention is "to minimize any advantage in women's competition." Accordingly, MTF athletes 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."

"It is necessary to ensure insofar as possible that trans athletes are not excluded from the opportunity to participate in sporting competition," the document reads. And while the text was drafted as a series of recommendations, rather than legally binding rules, the Committee hopes the guidelines will be in place by the Rio Olympics in August.

Joanna Harper, a medical advisor on the committee, has also expressed her wish that other sporting associations adopt similar measures. "Hopefully, organizations such as the ITA will quickly adapt to the new IOC guidelines and all of the outdated trans policies will get replaced soon," she told Outsports.

This is all good news for American triathlete Chris Mosier, who will compete in the Duathlon World Championships in June. If he qualifies for the next games, he could well become the first openly transgender Olympian, representing team USA.


Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Image via Flickr Creative Commons

Olympic Games