The International Olympic Committee introduced a new framework for transgender and intersex athletic participation on Tuesday, this one without blanket surgical or testosterone requirements. Under the new framework, international federations can create their own eligibility criteria as opposed to following the IOC's.
Tuesday's announcement is the latest development of a topic the IOC has wrestled with for more than 15 years. The IOC required transgender athletes to get surgery to compete in their new gender groups before the 2004 Olympics, and in 2015 it replaced the surgery requirement with a testosterone level threshold for transgender women. The new framework replaces the previous two.
"Through this Framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identy and Sex Variations, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) seeks to promote a safe and welcoming environment for everyone, consistent with the principles enshrined in the Olympic Charter," the IOC wrote. "The Framework also acknowledges the central role that eligibility play in ensuring fairness, particularly in high-level organised sport in the women's category."
The IOC's new framework, which isn't legally binding but intends to help international federations craft their own policies, emphasizes the following principles: inclusion, prevention of harm, non-discrimination, fairness, no presumption of advantage, evidence-based approach, primacy of health and bodily autonomy, stakeholder-centered approach, right to privacy and periodic reviews. International federations, the IOC hopes, will consider every principle before developing their individual criteria.
While crafting the new framework, the IOC consulted over 250 people from the athlete community, international federations, sports organizations and experts in human rights, law and medicine.
The IOC's new framework comes just after transgender and non-binary athletes broke through at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard and U.S. BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe were the first transgender women to qualify for the Olympics, and Canadian soccer player Quinn and American Skateboarder Alana Smith were the Games' first non-binary competitors.
"This Framework recognises both the need to ensure that everyone, irrespective of their gender identiy or sex varaitions, can practise sport in a safe, harassment-free environment that recognises and respects their needs and identities, and the interest of everyone -- particularly athletes at an elite leve -- to participate in fair competitions where no participant has an unfair and disproportionate advantage over the rest," the IOC wrote.