NCAA Board to Discuss Transgender Participation Policy at January 20 Meeting

A spokesperson for the NCAA has confirmed that the Board of Governors will discuss its transgender participation policy at its meeting on Thursday, January 20. A spokesperson said that they will issue a statement thereafter.

While each of the NCAA’s three divisions has their own governing committees to set their own rules and policies, the Board of Governors provides a unified voice to guide college sports as a whole, across all divisions. It is the NCAA’s highest governing body and is comprised of presidents and chancellors from each division, as well as five independent members.

The Board of Governors cannot directly enact legislation, but can provide guidance and recommend legislation to each division, where it is reviewed in the divisions’ legislative processes.

In April 2021, the NCAA Board of Governors put out a statement, reaffirming their commitment to their support for the inclusion of transgender student-athletes in collegiate athletics, noting, “This commitment is grounded in our values of inclusion and fair competition.”

“The NCAA has a long-standing policy (PDF) that provides a more inclusive path for transgender participation in college sports. Our approach — which requires testosterone suppression treatment for transgender women to compete in women’s sports — embraces the evolving science on this issue and is anchored in participation policies of both the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Inclusion and fairness can coexist for all student-athletes, including transgender athletes, at all levels of sport. Our clear expectation as the Association’s top governing body is that all student-athletes will be treated with dignity and respect. We are committed to ensuring that NCAA championships are open for all who earn the right to compete in them.”

The April statement reaffirmed its policy not to host championships in places that discriminate against transgender athletes; it was made in response to states who were banning transgender student from joining teams consistent with their gender identity. The NCAA Board of Governors re-upped this policy in August, asking hosts to “reaffirm their commitment to ensure a nondiscriminatory and safe environment for all college athletes.”

The conversation has taken a turn more recently, 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 NCAA Board of Governors has a thick legislative agenda, including the reimagining of the future of collegiate athletics and the anticipated rewriting of Division I rules following expected changes to the NCAA Constitution.

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FemaleSwimmersUnite
4 months ago

The NCAA Board of Governors re-upped this policy in August, asking hosts to “reaffirm their commitment to ensure a nondiscriminatory and safe environment for all college athletes.” I guess ALL doesn’t include female athletes, because they are being discriminated against by allowing transgender athletes to compete in the same category. The NCAA doesn’t care about female athletes, they will sacrifice any semblance of fair competition for fear of being called transphobic. Hoping someone on the Board of Governors can just talk about facts and leave out the feelings. How can they sit and ignore the obvious advantages?

Big Kicker
4 months ago

Gender and sex are two different things. Make sports categories sex-based. Easy solution.

Swimmer A
Reply to  Big Kicker
4 months ago

Ok, how are you defining sex?

Hmm
Reply to  Big Kicker
4 months ago

Trans compete in open category. Doesnt matter if trans man or trans woman, open category is welcoming to all.

But Title IX protects womens sports and participation. If XY people start dominating the womens category, women are not being protected by the statutes of Title IX.

Corn Pop
4 months ago

Trump at rally in Arizona just said no . Not him back but that side will win 2022 .

Steph
4 months ago

Trans women have been allowed to compete in the US Open for 45 years with zero championships to show for it. They’ve been allowed to compete in the Olympics for 17 years, with zero medals to show. Transwoman have been allowed to compete in NCAA Division 1 for 12 years with no championships won.

There is no basis for making things more difficult for trans women to compete.

Swimmer A
4 months ago

“This commitment is grounded in our values of inclusion and fair competition.”

Let’s hope they honor this. Transgendered athletes belong in swimming as much as anyone else.

The Original Tim
Reply to  Swimmer A
4 months ago

I don’t think anyone (at least not that I’ve seen here on SwimSwam) is saying transgender athletes don’t belong in swimming; rather, that transgender women should be competing against other transgender women, not biological women, and that their competition against biological women is exclusionary and unfair to biological women.

Swimmer A
Reply to  The Original Tim
4 months ago

“The April statement reaffirmed its policy not to host championships in places that discriminate against transgender athletes; it was made in response to states who were banning transgender student from joining teams consistent with their gender identity.“

Not-so-Silent Observer
Reply to  The Original Tim
4 months ago

So there are some issues with this mindset. It matches all past civil rights mindsets from when it first was including African American swimmers in competitions (I.E. PRIDE swimming movie period). Or even later on with including gay athletes when the AIDS crisis was at its peak and afterwards.

So this just feels like a repeat of history and will be a bad take to side with when history retells this series of events.

Plus, asking for there to be a transgendered category for competition does two things : marginalizes an already marginalized portion of society and it asks for/forces the outing of, or just general exclusion of from fear of being outed, transgendered athletes. When all they want to… Read more »

Female
Reply to  Not-so-Silent Observer
4 months ago

It’s a better take to oppress biological females in a sport where biological sex is outcome determinative? I’m sure the NCAA will do nothing. It’s priority is men. Females will be steamrolled and expected to just take it. How unusual … Being PC in this context defies facts and reality in favor of an overreaching political agenda.

Autumn Scardina
Reply to  Female
4 months ago

If “biological sex is outcome determinative* as you say it is, why did Lia lose to 4 cis women and a trans man last week?

Lkg4dmcrc
Reply to  Autumn Scardina
4 months ago

Because these are not her events? She is tired? She tanked them? Obviously you are not a swimmer to say such a comment.

Erik
Reply to  Not-so-Silent Observer
4 months ago

Also not sure it’s fair to compare skin pigmentation (and racism) to biological maturation of the male sex and what some are deeming unfair competition by way of scientific/physiological differences.

Autumn Scardina
Reply to  Erik
4 months ago

Lots of people used claims that there are “scientific/physiological differences” between races to prop up racial segregation too. In fact, “bone density” arguments against trans athletes today us identical to the bone density arguments of the past. Did you know people of color have higher bone densities on average.
Look it up, women of color have higher bone densities than while males. It doesn’t justify segregation or create an unfair advantage.

Teresa Steele
Reply to  Not-so-Silent Observer
3 months ago

The answer must be to have two categories: one for men’s swimming to be open to everyone, including transgender women (who have the physical advantages of biological males), and other women-only (that is female-only, since they are at a physiological disadvantage). That way, everyone is included and no-one is disadvantaged.

Autumn Scardina
Reply to  The Original Tim
4 months ago

Where is the proof? Rene Richards broke into womens tennis in the 70s. People screamed all the same things then about “the end of womans sports!!!!!” Its been over 40 years, and womens tennis is bigger and better now than ever. Not a single trans athlete has emerged in all those years to dominate. Why?

Same with the NCAA. It’s been over 12 years since they opened the doors to trans athletes. While Lia’s accomplishments are impressive, she is not dominant by any stretch. She brook a couple “pool records” and Ivy league records, but just recently lost to 4 cis women and a trans male. Why, if it is so unfair did these other athletes win? Why isn’t she… Read more »

SwimMom
Reply to  Autumn Scardina
4 months ago

You are right that all kinds of physical differences make a difference in sports. But we have male and femal sports for a reason. If we think the benefits of male puberty are insignificant, we could just as well eliminate all female sports. And, I suggest you dive a bit more into the facts if you are going to engage in this debate. It’s disngenous to say Lia is “not dominant by any stretch.” She has the top time among ALL NCAA woment athletes in two events (200 and 500 free). You are asking “Why isn’t she national champ?” . . . The answer is because there has not been a national champtionship swim meet since she transitioned. She is… Read more »

Female
Reply to  Autumn Scardina
4 months ago

This is such a weak argument. The fact that trans women haven’t flooded women’s swimming is due to the rarity of the event and not the lack of advantage. With more people identifying as trans women, it will become more common. The fact that it hasn’t been a major issue yet doesn’t prove anything. And it may happen. Lia swam the fastest times in the country after all.

Women have been discriminated against forever. Why on earth should androgenized trans women enter a protected sports category especially for biological females? It seems so entitled, almost like male privilege … Biological females are told what to do and to make accommodations, when biological men don’t have to. On top of… Read more »

Autumn
Reply to  Female
4 months ago

I agree that testosterone has a major impact on athletic performance. That is why the NCAA requires trans athletes to prove their testosterone is within the same levels as the athletes they are competing against, and that it has been for at least one year before competing.

Again, we need to strike a balance, and the current rules appear to do just that.

Female
Reply to  Autumn
4 months ago

That’s not what the NCAA policy does. It requires only one year of testosterone suppression. This does not put a trans woman on the “same level” as biological females, nor does it negate the benefits of an androgenized puberty.

There is still a clear advantage, as Lia herself demonstrates with her #1 in the nation times after being a fairly average male swimmer.

And why exactly do biological females have to be part of some “balancing” act? We are in a protected sports category. We should not be the ones forced to “strike a balance” and sacrifice ourselves for the sake of ultra PC politics that have a disconnect from reality.

This won’t and would never happen to biological… Read more »

purple people feeter
Reply to  Female
4 months ago

“after being a fairly average male swimmer”

Tell me you don’t know anything about swimming without telling me you don’t know anything about swimming.

Female
Reply to  purple people feeter
4 months ago

I meant at the college level, obvi, not the general population.

purple people feeter
Reply to  Female
4 months ago

She ranked 34th in the country in the 1650 free as a sophomore.

In what universe is ranking 34th in the NCAA as a sophomore “fairly average”??

Female
Reply to  purple people feeter
4 months ago

It’s certainly a different place than ranking 1st in the NCAA by changing genders.

Lkg4dmcrc
Reply to  Swimmer A
4 months ago

Female Pubety, Monthly Periods, Childbirth, Perimenopause, Menopause all are disadvantageouse for biological females competing in swimming. All but one of those is even a choice for biological women. Shame on anyone not protecting women’s sports.

Dr Deluxe
4 months ago

I hope they they can do something before the “ rabbit is out of the hat” which would be the Ivy League Championships. For the NCAA review, do they seek outside opinions from women swimmers or past swimming greats?

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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