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IAAF rules on trans athletes’ testosterone levels

As expected, the IAAF has set the same limit for trans women that it imposes on female athletes with DSD

World Athletics (formerly the IAAF) has ruled that transgender women must maintain testosterone levels at a maximum of 5 nanomoles per litre for 12 months before being declared eligible to compete, it was announced yesterday. The limit is half the previous limit of 10 nmol/l, in effect since 2015.

The new rule, passed during IAAF Council meeting in Doha at the conclusion of the recent World Championships, brings guidelines for female transgender athletes into line with those imposed on female athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) such as Olympic gold medallist and former world champion in the 800m, Caster Semenya. On July 31 it was ruled that Semenya was ineligible to compete after her failed appeal of the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s May 1 decision upholding the testosterone rule.

Caster Semenya. Photo: Karim JAAFAR / AFP/Getty Images

(Semenya is not transgender, but her DSD means she has naturally elevated levels of testosterone, exceeding the average range for women of between 0.12 and 1.79 nmol/l. In her absence, the women’s 800m in Doha was won by Halimah Nakaayi in 1:58.04, a new national record for Uganda.)

Trans women do not need to show evidence of being recognized by law as female, as long as their testosterone levels are maintained within the acceptable limit, but “should provide a signed declaration that her gender identity is female,” according to a report on the Inside the Games site. 

RELATED: IOC transgender policy stalled in advance of Tokyo 2020

The Council also created a five-member Expert Panel for the Eligibility Regulations of Transgender Athletes, comprised of endocrinologists and other medical experts from around the world. The panel will sit for a four-year term.

RELATED: Canadian researcher to study female transgender athletes

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