IOC opinion on trans athletes contradicts arguments for Texas law

AUSTIN (KXAN) – New guidelines shared by the International Olympic Committee on transgender and intersex athletes contradict many of the arguments made by Texas lawmakers who approved a ban on student sports this year.

After a three-year review with medical and human rights experts as well as athletes, the The IOC last month released a framework that provides guidance to sports governing bodies on how they should write their rules for transgender people and those with gender differences who would like to compete. Of the 10 principles outlined in the framework, it specifically states that these elite athletes should no longer have a presumed advantage and that their exclusion from competition should be based on evidence, not testosterone levels.

“No athlete should be precluded from competing or excluded from competition on the sole ground of a competitive advantage not verified, alleged or perceived to be unfair by reason of their sexual variations, physical appearance and / or transgender status” , stipulates the framework of the IOC. The document further asserts that “athletes should not be viewed as having an unfair or disproportionate competitive advantage because of their sexual variations, physical appearance and / or transgender status”.

Athlete Ally, a US-based LGBTQ rights group, consulted with the IOC during this multi-year process to help draft the six-page document released in November. Anne Lieberman, the group’s policy director, said they were particularly “thrilled” with the framework ahead before the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

“This really represents such an important step forward and an intentional rights-based approach that the IOC has developed throughout its work since March 2020,” said Lieberman, “so it’s amazing to see these guidelines now. ”

The IOC framework is not required for governing bodies as they individually regulate their own sports, leading some LGBTQ advocates to fear that restrictions may remain for transgender or intersex athletes. The document, however, states that any restrictions placed on these athletes “should be based on solid, peer-reviewed research”, although it does not provide exact examples of the type of studies that would include.

This document comes at a time when several states, including Texas, now have laws in place that prevent transgender students from participating in sports that match their gender identity. Gov. Greg Abbott enacted Bill 25 in October, which requires public school student-athletes to play on teams that match the biological sex listed on their birth certificate at the time of their birth.

Supporters of the Texas legislation, who were mostly Republicans, said the law is a way to protect the rights of cisgender women under Title IX, a federal law that restricts sex discrimination in women. educational institutions. They also argued that the participation of transgender girls in teams composed mostly of cisgender girls would pose security risks to cisgender girls and prevent them from obtaining athletic scholarships.

Many Texas Democrats have condemned the bill throughout this year’s legislative sessions, saying there were no complaints related to specific transgender athletes, in addition to unknown data on the number of students- transgender athletes who even play sports in Texas schools.

Lieberman stressed how important the IOC advice is in terms of the advice it contains, especially in the current political climate. For example, the framework states that “athletes should be allowed to compete in the category that best matches their self-determined gender identity”.

“The fact that the IOC is saying that trans athletes at the highest levels of sport, intersex athletes at the highest levels of sport, should not be seen to have an alleged or unverified advantage, clearly shows how much these plans for law are cruel and inhumane. across the country, “said Lieberman.” Essentially, sport’s most important governing body sets the stage for trans and intersex athletes to compete, so there is absolutely no reason other than cruelty, political postures, and an anti-trans agenda to try to ban college kids from playing sports with their friends because that’s basically what we’re talking about.

Lieberman also wondered how an earlier version of the IOC framework might have affected the outcome of some of these bills in the United States.

“A lot of defenders could have pointed at the cadre and said, ‘Look, what is it really about because it can’t be about sport and competitive advantage if the International Olympic Committee has done all of it. these very strong statements on equity, inclusion and non-discrimination and spent three years consulting a wide range of stakeholders, ”said Lieberman. “I think it’s also very important to note here about this framework is that they, the IOC, really took their time, heard from countless stakeholders to really make sure they had the strongest, most comprehensive and inclusive framework they could put together. outside.”

Definition of transgender and intersex

Since this article contains information on guidelines for transgender and intersex athletes, it is important to define what these terms mean.

According to NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, a transgender person is generally described as a person whose gender identity and / or expression may not match their physical, sexual characteristics or the sex assigned at birth.

Intersex refers to people born with sex chromosomes, genitals, and / or a reproductive system that are not considered the norm for males or females, according to the NLGJA.

The city of Austin recently approved a resolution condemning non-consensual and medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex children. The vote also asked the city manager’s office to explore “methods to implement a public education campaign to provide accurate information about intersex health care.”

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