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Openly Transgender Athletes Notably Absent from Olympic Roster

by HRC staff August 11, 2016

While there are many talented and successful transgender athletes around the globe, there are no openly transgender athletes competing in the Olympic Games in Rio.

It was only earlier this year that the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decided to allow transgender athletes to compete without gender affirming surgery. Previously, transgender athletes were required to undergo surgery and wait two years after before competing.

While the IOC decision was a step forward, there are still competition conditions on transgender women. According to The Guardian, while transgender men can compete “without restriction,” transgender women are required to demonstrate that their testosterone levels have been below a certain threshold for at least a year.

Though there are no openly transgender Olympians in Rio, Rolling Stone reports that there are two athletes competing at the Olympics who are transgender.

“The new IOC regulations opened the 2016 Summer Games to transgender athletes, and according to IOC meeting records, two closeted transgender athletes will be competing in August,” Rolling Stone said. “The nationalities of the transgender athletes were not revealed.”

Though qualified transgender athletes exist and are even competing, there is a discouraging lack of visibility. However, Nike, in a groundbreaking ad aired during the Olympics, is featuring Chris Mosier, a transgender man and world class duathlete. The ad ended with two powerful words: Unlimited Courage. While Mosier made Team USA for the World Championships, the duatholon is currently not an Olympic sport, so Mosier is not competing in the Olympic Games.

“So when I made that decision to be out, to be public, it was very much in the idea that I didn't see any other guys competing at a high level after a medical transition. I thought people should see that,” Mosier told ESPN. “And by people seeing me, that will impact their ability or their confidence to continue to play sports.”

The future for transgender athletes is promising.  Chloe Psyche Anderson will play women’s volleyball at a D-III school in the NCAA in the fall. Schuyler Bailar is a transgender swimmer at Harvard. These transgender athletes inspire younger trans athletes, like Matt Dawkins, a high school runner in New Jersey.

HRC staff
HRC staff


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