No perfect solution to transgender problem, says USOPC

Susanne Lyons, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the United States Olympic Committee, testifies before a Commerce Subcommittee hearing titled ‘Strengthening and Empowering US Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions’ on Capitol Hill in Washington, United States, on July 24, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

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June 23 (Reuters) – There is no perfect solution to the problem of transgender sport, the head of the United States Paralympic Olympic Committee (USOPC) said on Thursday, adding that even his own board of directors was not disagree on the way forward.

The debate over transgender sport exploded this week after FINA, the world governing body for swimming, voted to restrict the participation of transgender female competitors in women’s competitions and establish an “open” category, a move widely opposed by men. LGBT rights advocates.

Following FINA’s decision, many other sports federations, including world football’s governing body FIFA and World Athletics, have decided to review their transgender eligibility policies.

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The International Olympic Committee said in November that no athlete should be excluded from competition on the grounds of a perceived unfair advantage, while leaving it up to international sports federations (IFs) to decide where the balance lies between inclusion and fairness.

USOPC President Susanne Lyons said her organization would also leave it to IFs and National Governing Bodies (NGBs) to develop policy, but expects to participate in the discussion.

“I think we would all agree that there are no perfect solutions to this very complex problem,” said Lyons, whose term as CEO ends in January. “Things have to be decided at the level of the federation.

“We are not the decision makers on what the policies will be, but we feel we have an obligation to be informed and educated and to provide all the tools that our NGBs need when working with their IFs to try to develop their own policy.”

Advocates of transgender inclusion say there are not yet enough studies on the impact of transitioning on physical performance and that elite athletes are often physical outliers.

Balancing the Olympic Movement’s core values ​​of safety, fairness and inclusion with the individual rights of athletes is, however, a delicate equation.

“Part of inclusion is an athlete’s individual right to compete,” Lyons said. “These a-values ​​are in contradiction in this particular case.

“Not everyone agrees. Even in our own board, I would say we are not yet aligned on whether one or more of these values ​​should take precedence over another” , she added.

“We don’t have all the answers, we don’t even have all the agreements yet, but we will try to provide as much support as possible to our NGB partners as they struggle to set policy on this.”

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Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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