IOF consults on a proposal for new IOF transgender policy with the national orienteering federations and IOF athlete representatives. The proposal is in line with the new policy of World Athletics.
In recent years, there has been increasing attention and debate around the inclusion of transgender athletes and athletes with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD) in international sports. Advocates for transgender rights argue that all individuals should have the right to compete in sports, regardless of their gender identity and in the sex category corresponding to their gender identity. Opponents raise concerns about fairness and the potential advantage that some transgender and DSD athletes may have over their cisgender counterparts.
To address these concerns, various international sports organizations, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC), have developed policies on transgender and DSD participation in sports. These policies aim to balance the principles of fairness, safety, and inclusion while taking into account the physical and biological characteristics of transgender and DSD athletes.
Until 2021, the IOC and many international sports federations including the International Orienteering Federation (IOF) followed the guidelines established at the IOC Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment, the latest one held in November 2015. These guidelines set a maximum testosterone level for transgender and DSD female athletes over a period of time.
The current IOF Transgender Policy based on the IOC Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment held in November 2015 can be found here.
Policies have not been without controversy. Critics argue that the policies do not go far enough to ensure fair competition, particularly in respect of transgender female athletes who may have experienced the effects of testosterone during their earlier years. Others argue that the policies stigmatize and discriminate against transgender athletes.
At the end of 2021 the IOC replaced its previous recommendations, based on the consensus meetings, with the framework on fairness, inclusion, and non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex variations (see separate chapter). This gives guidance and recommendations to international sports federations on or how to develop a policy, but it leaves each federation with the responsibility of finding the right policy for its sport(s), based on scientific evidence and the most up-to-date medical and scientific knowledge. The logic behind this is that different sports have different physiological requirements and differences in policies might therefore be appropriate.
The IOF is one of the IOC-recognised international sports federations. The new framework from the IOC has, together with requests to the IOF from the membership, required the IOF to initiate a process to review the current IOF Transgender Policy. A working group was appointed by the IOF in June 2022 to lead this work.
In the autumn of 2022, IOF had an open consultation round on the topic and received feedback both from organisations and individuals. In this second consultation round, IOF consults on a proposal for new policy with the national orienteering federations and IOF athlete representatives (opinions from others must be given through these).
The proposal is in line with the new policy of World Athletics, and the dadline for feedback on the proposal is 20 June 2023.
The consultation document can be found here.