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Trans Athletes No Longer Need Surgery to Compete in the Olympics

The International Olympic Committee has updated its guidelines.

Trans Athletes No Longer Need Surgery to Compete in the Olympics

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Steve Fair

The transgender tipping point just keeps on tipping—this time in the realm of sports, a notoriously unfriendly arena for gender and sexual minorities. The International Olympic Committee updated its guidelines for transgender athletes, no longer requiring trans athletes to undergo sex reassignment surgery to participate in the Olympic games.


The statement comes just seven months before the kickoff of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. According to The Guardian, medical officials relaxed their policies in accordance with current social and political attitudes regarding transgender people.

“It is necessary to ensure insofar as possible that trans athletes are not excluded from the opportunity to participate in sporting competition,” the IOC wrote in its statement.

The previous guidelines, established in 2003, required both female-to-male and male-to-female athletes to undergo reassignment surgery and two years of hormone therapy in order to compete.

“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 statement added.

However, the treatment of trans athletes is not the same across the board: While female-to-male athletes can compete without restriction, male-to-female athletes must show that their testosterone levels are below a certain point at least a year before competing to preserve fairness.

“The overriding sporting objective is and remains the guarantee of fair competition. Restrictions on participation are appropriate to the extent that they are necessary and proportionate to the achievement of that objective,” the statement declared.

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