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The National Collegiate Athletic Association has announced that it has adopted new procedures on competition for transgender athletes, creating a “sport-by-sport” approach that also requires documentation of testosterone levels at all levels amid a fervor of recently transitioned swimmers breaking records in women’s track and field.
The NCAA said in a statement that its Board of Governors voted on Wednesday in favor of the “sport-by-sport” approach, which the organization says “preserves opportunities for transgender student-athletes while balancing equity. , inclusion and safety for all who compete. ”
While the policy defers to national governing bodies for individual sports, it also requires transgender athletes to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks prior to their sport’s championship trials. The new policy, which is consistent with U.S. Olympics rules, goes into effect in 2022, though implementation is expected to begin with the 2023-24 academic year, according to the organization.
John DeGioia, chairman of the NCAA board of directors and president of Georgetown, said in a statement that the organization is “firm in its support of transgender student-athletes and in promoting equity in college sports.” .
“It is important that NCAA member schools, conferences and varsity athletes compete in an inclusive, fair, safe and respectful environment and can move forward with a clear understanding of the new policy,” DeGioia said.
Specifically, beginning in the 2022-23 academic year, transgender athletes will be required to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks prior to their sport’s championship tryouts, the organization. These athletes, according to the NCAA, are also required to document testosterone levels four weeks prior to championship tryouts.
In terms of jurisdiction, individual national sports governing bodies are responsible for determining policies, which would be under review and recommendation by the NCAA, according to the organization. If there is no policy for a sport, the policy of the international federation for that sport or the previously established policy criteria of the International Olympic Committee will be followed.
The NCAA adopts the policy amid controversy over University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who broke records in women’s swimming. Thomas, who has competed as a man before, broke two national records and in the 1,650-yard freestyle was 38 seconds ahead of the nearest competition. The new NCAA policy appears to effectively sideline Thomas, who recently transitioned and unable to show consistent testosterone levels.
Ahead of the NCAA’s announcement, a coalition of 16 LGBTQ groups, including Human Rights Campaign and Athlete Ally, sent a letter to the collegiate organization this week, urging organizations to strengthen discrimination protections instead of weakening them. . The new policy, however, appears to go in another direction, which LGBTQ groups rejected in the letter.
“While decentralizing the NCAA and giving power to conferences and schools has its benefits, we are concerned that leaving the application of discrimination protections to schools will create a patchwork of protections rather than an overarching policy. that would protect all athletes, no matter where they play,” the letter says. “It would be similar to the patchwork of non-discrimination policies in states, where marginalized groups in some states or cities are protected while others are left behind by localities that choose not to adopt inclusive policies.”
JoDee Winterhof, vice president of policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement after the NCAA announcement that the new policy does indeed pass the buck.
“While the NCAA is committed to ensuring a safe, healthy, and discrimination-free competitive environment, it cannot evade the question of how to ensure that transgender athletes can participate safely,” said Winterhof. “This is precisely why we and a number of organizations across a wide range of advocates are urging them to re-adopt and strengthen non-discrimination language in their constitutions to ensure that the Association is committed to rules fair game and inclusive policies that they say their values demand. Any political language is only effective if it is enforceable, and with states passing bans on anti-transgender sports, any inclusive policy is immediately We are still reviewing the NCAA’s new policy on transgender inclusion and its impact on every transgender athlete.