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In the para-sporting world, how to handle gender issues?

Image credit: International Paralympic Committee

In first half of 2015, the LGBT community had a victorious day, as the United States and Ireland fully legalised the same-sex marriage. However, there is a constant debate on gender issues in the sporting world: Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner, former Olympic medallist who changed his gender identity. The petition to strip her medal is still going on under a pretext of violating the IOC’s rule regarding women competition in men’s event.

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But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed that it will not revoke Jenner’s medals in the men’s decathlon, amid the dispute over its gender polices.

At this point, international fans of para-sports might be curious about how the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is dealing with gender related issues.

Although the IPC does not have specific policies on the gender issues, Craig Spence, Communications and Media Director, said that regarding LGBT, IPC Constitution stated that IPC shall promote sports for athletes with impairments without discrimination for political, religious, disability, racial, gender or sexual orientations reasons [section 2.2.4]

Moreover, he explained that the IPC sports currently adopt the IAAF gender assignment ruling. For example, according to the IPC’s Athletics Rules and Regulations, “IAAF Regulations governing eligibility of athletes who have undergone sex reassignment to compete in women’s competition”, in force at the time of the competition, if the gender of an athlete wishes to compete in women’s competition. [section 3.2.5]

Also, IPC Athletics requires documentation that is submitted to the IPC Medical and Scientific Director for approval from an athlete who has undergone sex reassignment from female to male, before the first entry in the men’s compeition:

  • Satisfactory proof of the actual legal status as a male in the country the athlete is representing.
  • Medical history with evidence that from a medical point of view the athlete is considered to have completed sex assignment to male.

How about other organisations of para-sports?

The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) does not specify policy on LGBT, but Hen van Aller, Secretary General of IBSA said that it will plan to include this topic into its policies in the future.

She, however, emphasised two things. “First of all, we include transgenders in sports. And secondly, we ensure fair competition. Based on this fundamental and in coordination with the IPC regulations, we’ll develop our ruling on this,” she said.

About EJ Monica Kim (41 Articles)
<p>EJ Monica Kim completed B.A (Media and Communications) at The University of Sydney. She is a freelance journalist and writer at the International Paralympic Committee [IPC], based in Seoul, Korea.</p>

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