The American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) issued a statement today calling for the NCAA “and all governing bodies” to review and update their rules about the participation of transgender student-athletes, specifically in women’s swimming.
The ASCA asked for “science and evidenced-based [sic] research” to be used in setting new rules. The coaches association noted that “The current NCAA policy regarding when transgender females can compete in the women’s category can be unfair to cisgender females and needs to be reviewed and changed in a transparent manner.”
The NCAA Board of Governors had already announced its intention to discuss its transgender participation policy at its meeting on Thursday, January 20, and that it would issue a statement shortly thereafter.
The issue of transgender athletes in women’s swimming, in particular, has come to the forefront in recent months, with Penn swimmer Lia Thomas gaining international media attention for her record-breaking swims this fall. Thomas, who swam for the Quakers’ men’s team for three years before her transition, has the nation’s top times in the 200 free (1:41.93) and 500 free (4:34.06) and is ranked sixth in the 1650 free (15:59.71).
The ASCA represents a broad spectrum of swimming coaches in the United States, not just college coaches. The organization is not typically involved in legislating the sport at the collegiate level; its activities are more centered around certification and education for its 11,000 members. Another organization, the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA), represents some 2,000 member coaches and assistant coaches and advocates for the welfare of intercollegiate swimming and diving at all divisions of the NCAA, the NAIA, and the junior college associations.
As of this writing, neither the CSCAA nor USA Swimming, the governing body for the sport of swimming in the United States, have formally addressed the subject. USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey said last month that Lia Thomas was not a member at the time.
The ASCA’s full statement can be found below:
AMERICAN SWIMMING COACHES ASSOCIATION
STATEMENT ON POLICY REGARDING FEMALE TRANSGENDER SWIMMERS
“The American Swimming Coaches Association urges the NCAA and all governing bodies to work quickly to update their policies and rules to maintain fair competition in the women’s category of swimming. ASCA supports following all available science and evidenced-based research in setting the new policies, and we strongly advocate for more research to be conducted.
“ASCA embraces and encourages diversity and believes all people should have the opportunity to participate in swimming. Transgender people belong in our sport and have every right to compete, and at the same time cisgender females have a right to a category of competition that is fair and meaningful.
“The current NCAA policy regarding when transgender females can compete in the women’s category can be unfair to cisgender females and needs to be reviewed and changed in a transparent manner.
“The discrimination and disrespect that has erupted as a result of this conversation has no place in our sport or in society. We strongly reject the criticism of the athletes and coaches who are merely following the rules.”