Virginia’s New Policy Allowing Transgender Student Athletes Has Impossible Qualifications

Written by Zack Ford

The Virginia High School League, which oversees athletics across Virginia’s 313 public high schools, has approved a new policy that claims to let transgender students play on the team they identify with. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly unlikely that any student will ever actually qualify to participate, and those who do will have to make a significant sacrifice.

According to the policy, the only trans students who count as trans are those who have “undergone sex reassignment,” which means “surgical anatomical changes” including “external genitalia changes and gonadectomy” (removal of testes or ovaries). Otherwise, “a student-athlete will compete in the gender of their birth certificate unless they have undergone sex reassignment.” And Virginia only grants birth certificate changes to individuals whose sex “has been changed by medical procedure.”

It is unlikely, if not impossible, that any student would ever qualify for this. That’s because most doctors who assist individuals with physical transitions follow the Standards of Care outlined by The World Professional Association for Transgender Health. According to those standards, genital surgery should not be made available to minors:

Genital surgery should not be carried out until (i) patients reach the legal age of majority to give consent for medical procedures in a given country, and (ii) patients have lived continuously for at least 12 months in the gender role that is congruent with their gender identity. The age threshold should be seen as a minimum criterion and not an indication in and of itself for active intervention.

The age of majority in Virginia is 18, which means that 18 is the youngest age that any Virginia student could obtain sex reassignment surgery, at least from a licensed professional surgeon.

Moreover, most trans people do not actually pursue surgical options. One of the reasons for this is financial, as surgery can be incredibly costly. Others simply decide that they do not need to change their bodies in that way to realize their gender identity. They may also want to preserve their reproductive ability, which is permanently lost with the surgery.

Though claiming to do the opposite, Virginia has effectively banned transgender students from participating in athletics. In addition to subjecting them to harassment if they choose to play on the team they do not identify with, the policy will also deprive them of the academic benefits associated with participation in athletics. Trans students in Virginia schools experience alarming rates of harassment (74 percent), physical assault (35 percent), and sexual violence (23 percent).

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Ellie K.
Ellie K3 years ago

wow ...

Lynn C.
Lynn C3 years ago


Colin Hope
Colin Hope3 years ago


Dianne Turner
Dianne Turner3 years ago

THIS IS RED TATE BUREAUCRACY AT ITS WORST! The High school is just using their acceptance of transgender students as P.R BULLSHIT,; it's making them look good right up until the transgender person or their parents look into the policy in its entirity; then they realize ITS JUST WHITE-WASH BULLSHIT! Transgender students will have no more rights than they presently do. The svhool should NOT be allowed to use this transgender acceptance 'crap' to promote itself!

David Youmans
David Youmans3 years ago

Anne M...

If you think some high school kid is going to deal with the Hell that transgendered kids go through, just to be a star of the girls team, you're delusional and need to find professional help right away. Transgendered girls go through a Hell on earth of ridicule, harassment, and persecution, so you obviously know nothing about it at all.

Freddy R... We all know you far too well to take anything you say seriously, but just for information, boys that transgender to girls take female hormones, which will show up on a blood test, so as always, you're wrong, and you know it. You're just doing your usual work promoting the right wing agenda of fear and prejudice, so why don't you just stop wasting your time and ours by posting your crap!

Cathleen K.
Cathleen K3 years ago

Leslea H: Bullshit nothing, honey. We have lots of laws that protect the RIGHTS of minorities, but we should have none that create special privileges for them. I understand that this is a very emotional issue for you, so I'll assume you weren't actually comprehending what I wrote, since your reply makes no sense.

How many high school students have been on hormone therapy for two years? Please, enlighten me, because my guess would be that there probably aren't more than a dozen in the entire US.

Fred L.
Fred L3 years ago

I've got nothing against a transgender boy competing on a boys' team. But a transgender girl competing on a girls' team would have an inherent physical advantage. It just doesn't seem fair to the other girls. I don't think everyone has a right to do whatever they want to. Some limits make sense.

william Miller
william Miller3 years ago

so it is a start at least schools are talking about transgender people maybe one day after more thalking and thinking they will move forward with a reasonable response.

barb horban
barbara C Horban4 years ago

Let's get serious. Did anyone really think the powers that be were going to make it easy? Of course NOT! Shared

Anne M.
anne M4 years ago

No, Wesley, not a homophobe here. I just can see discrimination against girls when I'm confronted with it. This has nothing to do with homophobia and everything with knowing how dishonest these winning-obsessed people are. After all, why should any boy be able to just claim he's transgender if he is or not and participate in sports as a girl and thus competing against girls? In that case, girls can just give up on sports and might as well join cooking and sewing classes instead. We all know that Americans will do anything to relegate girls to girly-roles while the boys do all the sports. Wesley, calling people homophobes doesn't mean a thing when we all know that this phony transgender crap is just some other way for the male to keep females out of sports altogether. How naive do you think we are?