The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has put in force a new policy that aims to clarify what opportunities are open to transgender student athletes wanting to participate on college athletic teams in accordance with their gender identity and expression.
The NCAA, which oversees sports at 1,200 colleges and institutions, will now allow transgender student athletes to participate in sex-separated sports so long as a athlete’s use of hormone therapy is consistent with NCAA policy and current medical standards. This policy was devised in conjunction with the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ (NCLR) Sports Project and Griffin Educational Consulting.
“I commend the NCAA’s commitment to creating and supporting an inclusive culture that fosters equitable participation for student athletes,” said NCLR Sports Project Director Helen Carroll. “That core value is strengthened as the NCAA unveils this new policy that will not only allow, but encourage transgender student athletes to participate on athletic teams. This is truly historic, and it will give transgender student athletes equal access and opportunities to play college-level sports without any obstacles.”
Under the policy:
A transgender male student athlete who has a medical exception for testosterone hormone therapy may compete on a men’s team, but is no longer eligible to compete on a women’s team without changing the team status to a mixed team.
A transgender female student athlete who has taken medication to suppress testosterone for a year may compete on a women’s team.
Under the new policy, transgender student athletes who are not undergoing hormone therapy remain eligible to play on teams based on the gender of their birth sex and may socially transition by dressing and using the appropriate pronouns that match their gender identity.
In 2009 the NCLR and It Takes A Team!, An Initiative of the Women’s Sports Foundation, invited a number of experts from a range of fields to join a national think tank on trans student athlete issues as a way of identifying best practices and developing policy models for high school and collegiate programs that ensure the full inclusion of trans student athletes.
The NCAA has said that it will continue to provide resources to its members regarding trans issues in intercollegiate athletics as part of its ongoing effort to support institutions and student athletes.