GLAAD STATEMENT ON THE NEW INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE FRAMEWORK CALLING FOR FULL INCLUSION OF TRANSGENDER AND INTERSEX ATHLETES

November 16, 2021

 

GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is responding to a new framework of guidelines announced today by the International Olympic Committee that calls for the full inclusion of transgender and intersex athletes.

The guidelines, which can be read here, include 10 guiding principles to welcome all athletes at every level of participation, centered on the values of inclusion, prevention of harm and non-discrimination. The guidelines were created after extensive consultation with athletes, medical and legal experts, international federations, and athletic and human rights associations.

The IOC calls for a fully inclusive, evidence-based approach that protects athletes from discrimination and harassment and recommends that no athlete should be excluded from competition based on “unverified, alleged, or perceived unfair competition advantage.” The guidelines make it clear (see Principle 5: No Presumption of Advantage) that no athlete has an inherent advantage over another due to their gender identity, sex variations, or appearance.

STATEMENT FROM ALEX SCHMIDER, GLAAD ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF TRANSGENDER REPRESENTATION AND PRODUCER OF THE HULU ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARY “CHANGING THE GAME”:

“This is a victory for all athletes and fans, who know the power and potential of sports to bring people together and make us all stronger. Sports are for everyone, and fairness in sports means inclusion, belonging and safety for all who want to participate, including transgender, intersex, and nonbinary athletes. While these guidelines are intended for the most elite athletes in the world, the International Olympic Committee makes it clear that the same guidelines should apply at every level. On the heels of the most anti-LGBTQ legislative session in history with the majority of bills targeting trans youth in sports, every state and lawmaker should listen to the experts from the world of sports, medicine, and athletes themselves to allow transgender youth the same opportunities to play with their friends, have fun, learn, grow, and benefit from the lasting life lessons and supportive community sports can provide.” 

The IOC’s new framework was announced during Transgender Awareness Week, during which the existence and value of transgender people are elevated, as is their right to participate in society in safety and acceptance as themselves. GLAAD has a guide for media covering Transgender Awareness Week, leading up to Transgender Day of Remembrance, here.

Additional Research:

  • GLAAD highlighted out transgender and nonbinary athletes during this year’s Tokyo Olympics, the first to qualify for the Olympics and Paralympics in the nearly 20 years since policies formally welcoming them were implemented. GLAAD’s media guide was published in partnership with Athlete Ally and Pride House Tokyo and is here
     
  • Leading athletes support full inclusion for their transgender and intersex colleagues, including some of the most prominent names in women’s sports, and hundreds of college athletes wrote the NCAA to demand it uphold its policy not to host events in states that discriminate.
     
  • National civil rights groups this year signed on to a 2021 letter in support of transgender students, and in opposition to the wave of discriminatory bills passed this year, including nine states that passed laws banning transgender youth from school sports.
     
  • Every major professional medical association supports trans youth’s access to sports and gender affirming care as safe and lifesaving.
     
  • Dozens of major corporations signed on to a business statement opposing bills and laws targeting trans people.
     
  • Lawmakers in dozens of states could not cite an instance where allowing transgender students to participate in sports was ever an issue in their states. Their bills were supported by longtime anti-LGBTQ activists who filed legal briefings with false claims about trans people. 

GLAAD calls on elected officials to consult and follow the International Olympic Committee framework when considering proposed legislation affecting transgender youth and their access to sports. GLAAD calls on leaders in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia to overturn their states’ discriminatory and unnecessary bans and follow the guidelines of the IOC to include trans students.