From cycling to swimming to rugby league, several sports have just restricted transgender athletes’ access to female competitions, sparking a debate combining advances in research, sports justice and human rights.
Within days, three federations responded to a call from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which on November 16 asked sports federations to set their own criteria to allow transgender and intersex people to compete at a high level. The International Cycling Union (UCI) opened the ball with a notable hardening last Thursday, doubling the “transition period” (from 12 to 24 months) in which transgender women must have “low” testosterone levels before they are “in the appropriate category”. to their new gender identity”. Citing “new scientific studies,” the cycling federation lowers the allowable crossing threshold in half from 5 to 2.5 nmol/l blood, arguing that this is “the maximum testosterone level that can occur at 99.99% of the woman is observed population”. In doing so, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) on Sunday restricted access to its women’s categories to swimmers “who became women before puberty,” a solution that excludes nearly all transgender athletes, whose transition typically occurs later. For months, rocked by controversy surrounding American Lia Thomas, who in the spring became the first transgender swimmer to win a varsity title, FINA is considering creating an “open category” alongside the women’s and men’s competitions, which would be unprecedented for all sports combined. Finally, the day before yesterday, the International Rugby League temporarily banned transgender women players from women’s international rugby league matches pending the introduction of “a full inclusion policy”, which the organization hopes to launch over the next year.
For his part, Sebastian Coe, president of the International Athletics Federation (World Athletics), paved the way for a change in its regulations by promising without further details to favor “justice” and “the integrity of women’s sport” over the “inclusion” of transgender competitors.
The IOC shakes hands
Far from being an accident, this volley of positions was expected, given that the IOC had given up proposing unified guidelines, as it had done since 2004, recalls Ekain Zubizarreta, a sports sociologist at the University of the Basque Country. As a result, the Olympic body required gender reassignment surgery at least two years prior to the athlete’s application – criterion was lifted in 2011 – and verifiable “hormone therapy” for “a period long enough to minimize gender-related competitive advantages”. In the meantime, however, the nature of the discussion has changed, endocrinologists or sports scientists have failed to “gain visibility” as athletes and human rights activists do, emphasizes the researcher.
The debate has also been fueled by the media and legal battle of certain intersex athletes, including South African champion Caster Semenya, who suffers from hyperandrogenism (a high level of testosterone), which has forced authorities to refine their regulations and disclose their sources to scientists. From now on, it is a question of assessing both the effects on muscle mass and endurance of high testosterone levels and the time during which these effects last, but also respecting “the primacy of health”, the “right to privacy” ” and the goal of “inclusion” of elite sport, listed the IOC in November, providing ten potentially conflicting principles.
When asked, the Olympic organization did not specify whether it was eventually considering a third category at the Olympics, leaving it to each body to “determine the threshold at which an advantage may become disproportionate and to develop the mechanisms necessary to compensate.” . The project, which is particularly complex for organizations with different legal and scientific resources, is just beginning: last Thursday, the UCI announced that it is “discussing with other international federations” a research program to “develop the physical performance of highly trained athletes”. . is undergoing interim treatment with hormones”.
From cycling to swimming to rugby league, several sports have just restricted transgender athletes’ access to female competitions, sparking a debate combining advances in research, sports justice and human rights. Within days, three federations responded to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) call for November 16…
#cycling #swimming #transgender #female #athletes #barred #elite #level..