Tifanny Abreu’s debut as the first transgender athlete to play in Brazil’s Superliga has drawn both support and criticism towards her and has been the topic of debate in many volleyball circles. This week, the discussion has just gotten added another chapter, as the FIVB Medical Commission met in Switzerland to discuss, among other issues, transgender athletes’ participation in the sport.
The Commission reiterated that FIVB‘s goal is to establish an athletic participation system that is inclusive and that takes into account the individual choices of athletes, while at the same time, ensuring a level playing field on the court. It also decided that for the moment, pending an institutional research effort to be undertaken in the future, it will adhere to the IOC’s current positioning regarding transgender athletes participation in international sporting events, and that in national competitions, the respective national federations will have the final say on the matter.
Medical Commission President Annie Peytavin and FIVB Secretary General Fernando Lima were very optimistic about the meeting’s turnout:
“Today we made significant headway on a number of medical issues that stand to change the face of the sport of volleyball as we know it. Of particular interest was the issue of transgender participation. Following in depth discussion, the FIVB Medical Commission is committed to studying this issue in order to ensure that any medical decision made by the FIVB is based on the latest data and expertise in this area, so as to ensure a fair and equitable system of competition for all athletes.” – Annie Peytavin
“This is a complex issue, also being debated by other international federations. It is important to consider many angles when making such a critical decision, given the long-lasting impact on athletes. We also need to be mindful of equality within gender categories and we need to analyse this further with the help of medical, ethical and legal experts among others. The FIVB is committed to transparency and good governance in all areas and it is vital that we integrate the knowledge and expertise of different FIVB Commissions. The FIVB will work closely with the IOC and ASOIF and we will do our best to be aligned on this sensitive issue.” – Fernando Lima
The meeting also discussed another important issues, with special highlights to FIVB‘s continuing efforts to better its institutional anti-doping program.