NCAA drops rules on trans athletes and tells sports to set their own
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has ditched its uniform policy regarding participation of trans athletes in favour of a sport-by-sport approach.
On Wednesday (19 January), the board of governors of the NCAA quietly announced the end to its inclusive 11-year-old policy on trans participation in college sports.
The policy, which was adopted in 2010, was based on hormonal requirements for trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming student-athlete participation.
However the NCAA board voted instead in support of a sport-by-sport approach to participation that it says “preserves opportunities for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete”.
The NCAA said the new requirements, which go into effect immediately, will bring the collegiate sports association’s policies in line with those currently used by the US and International Olympic Committees (IOC).
Trans athletes’ participation will now be determined by the national governing body (NGB) of the particular sport they want to compete in. If no NGB exists, the NCAA said that sport’s international federation policy will be followed.
In the case of there being no established international federal policy, “previously established IOC policy criteria” will be used.
A spokesperson for the NCAA clarified to swimswam.com that this refers to a framework announced by the IOC in November which provides guidance to sports bodies as they establish their own rules, following the IOC’s decision to scrap its imposed testosterone limits.
After extensive research, the IOC said in November that total testosterone levels are no longer considered to be the most important factor in determining whether trans women should be allow to compete. Instead, from March 2022, the IOC said that individual sports will set their own rules around trans inclusion.
New NCAA trans policy ‘will create many different standards’
Chris Mosier, a duathlete and trans advocate, slammed the NCAA’s updated policy for needlessly ‘complicating’ the rules around the participation of trans people in sports.
He told ESPN that he didn’t believe that the NCAA was “equipped to handle” these new complications, especially as many NGBs don’t have trans-inclusive policies.
“Given that many NGBs have not created policies for transgender athletes and that policies vary from sport NGB to NGB, tracking compliance is going to be a nightmare for the NCAA,” Mosier explained. “This creates many different standards for trans athletes.”
Under the NCAA’s new policy, trans student-athletes will be required to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections.
For the 2022-23 academic year, the deadline will be at the beginning of the student’s season, and they will have a second documentation six months after the first.
Trans student-athletes will also be required to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections. For the 2022-23 academic year, the deadline will be at the beginning of the student’s season, and they will have a second documentation six months after the first.
The NCAA’s new policy comes at a time when state legislatures across the US are debating various anti-trans bills.
This follows more than 130 anti-trans bills being proposed across 33 states last year, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Since 2020, 10 states have enacted cruel laws restricting participation for trans athletes in school sports.
Lia Thomas is an example of how confusing the new rules are
University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas has been dragged to the centre of the debate on trans inclusion in competitive women’s sports.
Anti-trans critics have decried her involvement in swimming competitions as “unfair”.
In Thomas’ first season on the UPenn women’s team, she has won some races and lost others. A little over a week ago, Thomas placed fifth in the women’s 100-yard freestyle at twin dual meets with Yale and Dartmouth, losing to three cis women and a trans man.
Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps weighed in on the backlash against Thomas recently. Phelps bizarrely compared being trans to doping and said he hadn’t “competed in a clean field my entire career”.
He then declared sports should have a “level playing field” when it comes to the inclusion of trans athletes.
“I believe we all should feel comfortable with who we are in our own skin, but I think sports should be played on an even playing field,” Phelps said.
Under the NCAA’s new policy, Thomas would be required to comply with USA Swimming’s participation criteria in order to compete in the NCAA championships in March.
But USA Swimming doesn’t currently have a formal policy regarding trans athletes, according to Swimming World Magazine.
Forbes pointed out that there is a requirement posted on USA Swimming’s website that cites athletes much follow “current IOC guidelines”.
The College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America said it was “disapointed” in the NCAA’s “failure to take the lead”
We have been in communication with the NCAA BoG and are disappointed in their failure to take the lead in this important discussion. We will comment further following our BoD mtg tomorrow. https://t.co/Dq88LCH1lg
— CSCAA (@CSCAA) January 20, 2022
PinkNews has contacted USA Swimming.