A trans facilitator in the NCAA has resigned in the wake of the organization’s Board of Governors announcing a new transgender policy last week.
Dorian Rhea Debussy, a nonbinary/transfeminine who was one of the 54 facilitators in the NCAA Division III LGBTQ OneTeam program, sent a resignation letter directly to NCAA president Mark Emmert, along with D-III interim vice president Louise McClearly and several diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) officials.
Debussy, who is an associate director for DEI at Kenyon College, resigned in protest of the new NCAA policy that passes the buck on determining whether transgender athletes will be permitted to compete to each individual sport’s governing body.
“I’m deeply troubled by what appears to be a devolving level of active, effective, committed, and equitable support for gender diverse student-athletes within the NCAA’s leadership,” they wrote in the letter, published publicly by the advocacy organization Athlete Ally.
“As a non-binary, trans-feminine person, I can no longer, in good conscience, maintain my affiliation with the NCAA.”
The NCAA’s new policy, announced Wednesday, is a significant alteration to the previous one that had gone unchanged since 2010. The issue has come to the forefront in recent months due to the emergence of University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, a trans woman who previously competed on the men’s team.
Previously, transfeminine athletes were able to compete on a women’s team after one year of testosterone suppression, but now, the new policy leaves the decisions up to each individual sport’s national governing body.
Thomas was eligible to compete under the former policy, having been undergoing testosterone suppression for over two and a half years.
Under the new policy, the guidelines on trans athlete participation are now left to USA Swimming, which released a statement last week saying it has been working with FINA, swimming’s international governing body, to come up with an updated policy.
Debussy was critical of the NCAA’s policy relative to that of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Debussy said that “the NCAA notes that their updated policy still mandates rigid testing schedules for endocrine levels, while the IOC’s updated policy strongly emphasizes the importance of bodily autonomy and scientific evidence in ensuring fairness.”
They added that by deferring to each sport’s individual governing body, the NCAA fails to set a clear and direct expectation for a trans-inclusive environment
“In contrast, the IOC’s updated policy clearly affirms the rights of athletes to participate safely and without prejudice, while also mandating that relevant policies for each sport must fall in line with the IOC’s framework and expectations for an evidence-based, non-discriminatory, and stakeholder-centered approach,” Debussy wrote.
“[T]heir steadfast opposition to anti-LGBTQ+ — and especially anti-transs —legislation appears to have waned in recent years. For example, the NCAA, just last year, awarded championship tournaments to multiple states that had actually passed legislation, which limits the participation of gender diverse student-athletes,” Debussy continued.
Under the current framework, nothing precludes Thomas from racing at the Women’s NCAA Championships in March.