A proposed International Olympic Committee rule change allowing transgender athletes to compete in both genders will be unveiled in April, even though some members of the organization say they are “concerned” about some aspects of the plan.
The measure — which has been viewed as a priority of the IOC this year — is part of an extensive report on the rights of transgender athletes that was commissioned last year.
While some members of the executive board have voiced reservations, Michael Payne, the acting director of the executive committee, said the proposed rule change was “well received.”
He added that the executive board was confident the rule change would “fairly and compassionately” implement the directive.
It is understood that on July 24, the IOC will vote on the proposal that would allow transgender athletes to compete in both the sex they were assigned at birth and the sex they identify with.
The majority of athletes currently can only compete in one gender.
However, once implemented, the proposal will then take effect “90 days from the adoption of the rule,” according to the draft.
According to the proposal, transgender athletes can take part in non-Olympic sporting events and be cleared to compete in events held during the next Olympics cycle, and will not be sanctioned for breaching their doping policies.
The report says the new rules have been referred to as the “Olympic Athlete Transition Plan” and it encourages transgender athletes to take part in training programs with supportive coaches before taking part in the Olympics.
There will also be a period of “transition” during which the athletes will be permitted to wear the same clothes as non-transgender athletes, abide by the same rules as other athletes and participate in training programs.
The Olympic organization announced last November that from 2020, transgender athletes will be able to compete in all events as they identify.
The IOC has been under mounting pressure to change the sports governing body’s policy on transgender athletes, as countries around the world are facing criticism for excluding or insulting transgender people.
In 2016, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) lifted its ban on transgender athletes competing in the female gender, after athletes publicly filed discrimination cases against the organization.
While some politicians have gone to court to force governments to allow transgender people to marry and live as their true selves, with transgender rights prominent on the European Parliament’s agenda, a proposal by the Australian government in 2015 to allow transgender school students to transition into their chosen gender was ultimately defeated.
The new IOC report is a culmination of nine months of meetings involving around 250 officials, representatives from 40 national sports federations and transgender people involved in sports, as well as having consulted with representatives from other Olympic organizations.
“The spirit behind the Transition Plan has been clearly recognized in the plans submitted by the Commission and the implementation of these plans will be guided by the recommendations of the Commission,” the IOC report said.
Marius Vizer, the president of the Romanian Olympic Committee and a member of the IOC’s executive board, said after the meeting that while some members of the committee had been concerned with aspects of the report and subsequent rule change, he was “fully” confident the process would be undertaken in an “honest and fair way.”
Payne said the IOC was notifying countries and sports organizations about the transition plan, giving all parties a chance to respond.
“There’s never a clean cut process in any step,” he said. “It’s always been in the evolution of saying, ‘Wow, this is actually something that’s right, this is something we feel quite strongly about.’
“We’ve got faith that the member’s organizations, federations, stakeholders, athletes are up to date with the process and are supportive of the direction we’re taking.”
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