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IOC gives guidance on transgender, non-binary athletes

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) released guidance on welcoming transgender and non-binary athletes this week.

In an announcement on Tuesday, Nov. 16, the IOC laid out the framework for inclusivity in Olympic sports.

The organization said that when establishing eligibility criteria for women’s and men’s categories, it must be done grounded in internationally recognized humans rights, evidence and athlete consultation.

“While these principles have been drafted with the specific needs of high-level organised sports competitions in mind, the general principles of inclusion and non-discrimination reflected below should be promoted and defended at all levels of sport,” the organizations stated.

The framework states that everyone can participate, regardless of gender identity or expression in safety and without prejudice. It calls on organizations to work to advance inclusion and that there should be measures and mechanisms to be welcoming and prevent harassment and abuse.

With fairness, it calls for sport organizations to provide confidence that no athlete has a disproportionate advantage, but that there is no presumption of advantage because of gender expression. Unless there’s evidence proving otherwise, trans athletes can compete in categories for their gender.

The framework also says that athletes should never be forced to go through invasive physical exams to determine their gender.

It comes after two years of consultations with more than 250 athletes and concerned stakeholders and includes 10 principles that national Olympic committees should consider when promulgating policies and regulations concerning fair and inclusive standards for participation at the national level. 

“We commend the IOC for the important step it took today to center fairness, diversity, and inclusion in elite level sport,” said Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Sasha Buchert. “As we fight trans youth sports bans in states across the country, for the IOC to issue a framework that explicitly rejects the categorical ban on transgender athletes from elite level competition should send a clear message to all those state legislators seeking to impose such bans at the middle school and high school level. “

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