The 2022 Winter Olympics are already more inclusive than previous games, as the International Olympic Committee announced it’s dropping a policy that once required transgender and inter-sex athletes to undergo medical procedures.
The International Olympic Committee released the “Framework on Fairness, Inclusion, and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations” on Tuesday, replacing a 2015 document that allowed those who transitioned from male to female to compete only if their testosterone was under a certain level.
Prior to 2015, those athletes had to undergo genital surgery.
The change is welcome news for athletes like James Demers.
“We’re here, we’re ready to play, it’s about making sure that we can,” Demers said.
“A hundred years ago, all the demographic data that we had about the potential of the human body was based only on cisgendered men, right? When we cut women out of that conversation, when we cut transgender, non-binary people out of that conversation, then all that we know about the human body is this very narrow percentage of what it can do and it’s very specific context.”
Demers grew up playing team sports and even played rugby at a provincial level. But when he transitioned at age 18, team sports wasn’t the same.
“Losing team sports was really complicated in a way. We often think about trans and non-binary people as their transition or their process. We don’t think about their lives, the rest of their lives, and the quality of our lives. And being able to engage in sport is about the quality of our life.”
Demers adds it’s crucial to talk about not just transgender people, but inter-sex people–those who are born with several sex characteristics–as they paved the way for this IOC ruling.
“It will be certainly impactful on trans women but it’s worth highlighting. We need to start talking about inter-sex people more often and we need to start talking about the natural variations in sex characteristics that exist in the population,” Demers said.