For the first time in Olympic history, this summer’s Rio Games could see transgender athletes compete without having to undergo gender re-assignment surgery.
According to ESPN, the International Olympic Committee is set to formally adopt the proposed new standards introduced at its “Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism” in November that would only require transgender athletes to undergo hormone therapy for one year to compete. These standards have already been adopted by the NCAA and several other sports organizations.
Until now — pending final adoption of the new policy — the Olympics’ policy on transgender athletes rested on standards adopted in 2003 that required transgender athletes to have undergone gender reassignment surgery, as well as have undergone two years of hormone therapy.
The revised guidelines introduced in November can already be found on the Olympics website, but Olympic officials have not confirmed the new policy officially.
No Olympians have ever competed under the gender they weren’t assigned at birth. Notably, Caitlyn Jenner, who won a gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics as Bruce Jenner, and Balian Buschbaum, who placed sixth in the pole vault at the 2000 Olympics as Yvonne Buschbaum, both began identifying as the opposite gender publicly later in life.
There are, however, professional transgender athletes who compete today, including cyclists Natalie van Gogh of the Netherlands and Michelle Dumaresq of Canada, and Team USA duathlete Chris Mosier, who identifies as male. Van Gogh and Dumaresq have both undergone gender reassignment surgery; Mosier has not.
Mosier, 35, is currently awaiting approval to compete at the World Championships in Aviles, Spain, this June, ESPN reports. This could determine whether he will be eligible to earn an Olympic spot. Currently, the International Triathlon Union which oversees the race uses the guidelines set out in 2003 that require transgender athletes to have undergone gender reassignment surgery to compete against the gender they identify with.