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IOC Says Transgender Athlete Policy Is Outdated, Plans To Change After Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee officials said the guidelines governing the participation of transgender women in Olympic sports are outdated and they plan to announce a new policy after the Tokyo Games.

The statement came as Laurel Hubbard — the New Zealand weightlifter set to compete in the Tokyo Olympics as the first transgender athlete in the history of the games after she met several eligibility requirements — prepared to compete on Monday.

Hubbard lifts in the 87+kg division is allowed to compete alongside women under guidelines established in 2015 by the IOC and adopted by the International Weightlifting Federation, Yahoo Sports reports.

Many medical experts and policymakers have come to the conclusion that those rules were no longer fully supported by science in recent years, and experts who spoke with Yahoo Sports identified two main shortcomings: That testosterone-related rules were too lenient, and that one set of guidelines should not apply to dozens of different sports.

The outlet reports that the current guidelines require a transgender woman to undergo hormone therapy and suppress her testosterone “below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months prior to her first competition.”

But two scientists who’ve consulted with the IOC said that, based on recent evidence, they believed the threshold to be too high and was set “based on old data, and not on the most sophisticated ways of measuring testosterone,” said Myron Genel, a Yale endocrinologist who has studied the topic and consulted with the IOC for two decades, per Yahoo Sports.

Other experts emphasized that a one-size-fits-all policy on trans inclusion fails to consider that the advantages retained by women who’ve gone through male puberty are far more impactful in some sports.

“The difference between male and female performance varies from sport to sport,” Genel said, per Yahoo Sports. “Even within a sport, like in track and field, the male to female advantage may be anywhere from 5 to 12, 13%, depending upon the activity.”

The IOC’s new approach will be announced later this year, but officials stressed the need for more science. Yahoo Sports reports that to date, most, if not all relevant studies on retained advantages in transwomen have not specifically studied athletes, just transwomen in general. 

Written by Meg Turner

Meg graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter at @Megnturner_ and Instagram at @Megnturner.

10 Comments

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  1. LOL.. it was 125 KG.. that’s ONLY 275. Now, I’m 50 years old, and got back in the gym about 7 years ago doing JUST free-weights. I can currently chest press 175 lbs and I workout on dead-lift with 275 (10 reps).. and this is the best the first “transgender” can do?? I think I can snatch 275!!!

    He’s definitely not the “Jackie Robinson” of the trans-athlete world….

    Seems to me HE threw this intentionally to keep the debate open about letting MEN compete as women since Laurel Hubbard got beat… this is GIANT red herring and we will continue to see MEN continue to compete as women because of Laurel’s intentional flop.

      • 100% agree. I would be very surprised if you could clean and jerk 275. Bench has nothing to do with Olympic lifts. Dead lifting 275 is nice, but again does not really translate into snatching or cleaning.

        Snatching is the most difficult of the lifts as it is all technique. You need tons of core and back strength and shoulder mobility as you are catching the weight behind your head. Cleaning allows you to catch the weight with your collarbones after getting under it.

        None of this is a defense on the joke the IOC is for allowing Hubbard to compete. But more of a warning for anyone who thinks they can go out and do these lifts at those weights. Its a lot of weight.

  2. Only requiring one year of reduced testosterone doesn’t seem like it’s anywhere near enough. If I do steroids my entire life but quit them on my 25th birthday, would it really be fair for me to compete in the Olympics when I’m 26?

  3. This is what happens when you let the lunatics drive the car. You debate lunacy and ruin everything in its wake. There are two sexes. Male and female. Repeat after me.

  4. Remember long ago in 2015 when patently insane things could simply be laughed off the stage without wasting time debating the obvious? Then along came Katelyn Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer…Way to go Bruce.

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