Laurel Hubbard made history as the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics this summer, and following this milestone, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced a new framework supporting trans athletes.
The new guidance comes after two years of consultation with 250 athletes and concerned stakeholders, and states that no athlete should be excluded from competition based on the assumed advantage of their gender. The document will officially be put into place following the Beijing 2022 Olympics.
Previous guidelines allowed athletes to compete as women if their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months before their first competition. This new framework recognizes that testosterone is not the ultimate indicator of eligibility or gender, and creates more space for a case-by-case analysis of athletes. The new guidelines are more inclusive for athletes with differences of sex development (DSD), like South African runner Caster Semenya whose testosterone levels have previously excluded her from some events.
Although a step in the right direction, the IOC framework is not legally binding and still leaves most of the decision making regarding athlete eligibility up to individual sporting federations. “What we are offering to all the international federations is our expertise and a dialogue, rather than jumping to a conclusion,” said Kaveh Mehrabi, director of the IOC’s athletes’ department.