NCAA Facilitator Resigns Due To Organization’s New Transgender Policy

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.

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David
3 months ago

What’s a “transfeminine” ?

3rd option
3 months ago

Women’s swimming needs to be renamed Cis-Women’s swimming. Trans should be allowed to practice, compete, and have their own records, but not against Cis-women. No Cis-woman should lose any opportunity, championship place, award, or record to a trans female.

THEO
3 months ago

I hope swimming takes an approach specific to our sport to meet in the middle. Something like:
1) trans women train and compete with other women
2) ncaa & US open records are kept separately for trans women (maintaining another set of records seems very low-lift)
3) trans women can score in dual meets and conference but not at NCAAs, and cannot contribute to relay qualification. If a school wants to send a trans woman on their roster as a non-scoring swimmer to NCAAs that’s fine.

There’s lots about that solution that even I don’t like – and I proposed it! But it’s not an easy situation to resolve in a way that works for everyone. An… Read more »

yall are hateful
Reply to  THEO
3 months ago

yeah, I really respect this approach. However, this could discourage the recruitment of trans athletes which really wouldn’t be fair to them. I don’t have a solution but I don’t think that’s a very inclusive idea. if this gets a lot of downvotes we clearly have an issue of transphobia, not fairness

THEO
Reply to  yall are hateful
3 months ago

I agree with your critique about bias against trans athletes in recruiting.

I really really wish it was as simple as: “let trans women compete same as any other woman” or “make a new division” but they both come with problems.

I think your last sentence is sort of inflammatory and not very helpful btw. And that’s coming from someone who sees transphobia in just about every Facebook comment on these articles (though not nearly all swimswam ones – thank u for the content moderation!!).

Terry Watts
3 months ago

“The way things are, it will be tough for a n**** player to become part of a close-knit group such as an organized ball club. I think Branch Rickey was wrong in signing Jackie Robinson to play with Montreal and that it won’t work out.” – Rogers Hornsby (MLB HOFer), Oct. 25, 1945.

HJones
Reply to  Terry Watts
3 months ago

?

Corn Pop
Reply to  Terry Watts
3 months ago

Jackie’s male ancestors got the vote 3 generations ahead of women in the US . Every such battle is not in a row in a chocolate box .

swim mom
Reply to  Terry Watts
3 months ago

STOP IT – race does NOT belong in this conversation

Terry Watts
Reply to  swim mom
3 months ago

“The advocates of woman suffrage who cling to this idea, which was prevalent at the time of the French Revolution, and even half a century ago, that the ballot in itself is a panacea for all existing evils and a short cut to the solution of government problems, are not progressive, but are in reality behind the times as students of government. Suffrage isn’t a remedial agent in government, but is merely a means of keeping the wheels of government in motion.”

Alice Hill Chittenden.
President of the New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage.

Terry Watts
Reply to  Terry Watts
3 months ago

Because you say so? Explain why my equivalence would be false.

Terry Watts
Reply to  Terry Watts
3 months ago

“biological facts”

That’s funny.

Stoked 2 be vaccinated
3 months ago

Mad props to Dorian for standing up to the NCAA!

Taa
Reply to  Stoked 2 be vaccinated
3 months ago

Did she really stand up to them? More like jumped ship when she didn’t agree.

HJones
Reply to  Stoked 2 be vaccinated
3 months ago

I am sure the loss of a “facilitator” is a huge blow to the NCAA. How will they ever recover?

Just like Neil Young protesting Spotify–he’s the 776th most-streamed artist based on monthly listeners. He’s a great artist with a great legacy, but no one’s really going to care if he leaves their platform, as those that consume his music clearly aren’t doing it on Spotify.

Swimmer A
Reply to  Stoked 2 be vaccinated
3 months ago

I agree!

Max V.
3 months ago

Bruh

Taa
3 months ago

54 facilitators? That means there are still 53 left and they probably need to let go of another 50 or so. How many trans athletes are there in NCAA?

ACC
Reply to  Taa
3 months ago

There are almost 200,000 DIII student-athletes, and this is for all LGBTQ athletes. Somewhere between 10% and 20% of gen z identify as LGBTQ, so that’s between 20,000 and 40,000 athletes.

funswimming
Reply to  ACC
3 months ago

Yes champion that administrative bloat!

ACC
Reply to  funswimming
3 months ago

Administrative? The facilitators run training programs for coaches and staff, it isn’t an administrative role.

Taa
Reply to  ACC
3 months ago

It sounds a bit excessive. I doubt they are running training programs 40 hours a week. They can just put the training online why do they need 54 of them? Shouldn’t it mostly fall back to the university’s LGBTQ staff that handles the general student population? Why do the sports people need another 54 staffers?

ACC
Reply to  Taa
3 months ago

This isn’t their full time role. Debussy is also a professor at Kenyon and associate director of the diversity, equity, and inclusion office.

Last edited 3 months ago by ACC
funswimming
Reply to  ACC
3 months ago

So admin bloat!

Taa
Reply to  ACC
3 months ago

okay fair enough more of a title then a real position.

Hmm
Reply to  ACC
3 months ago

Lgbtq+ references everyone besides straight (essentially, there is sone nuance) so making thay argument of 10-20% identifying as lgbtq+ when discussing the trans specifically is a false equivalency.

Per the national institute of health, theres an estimation of 1 in every 250 adults is trans.

Per statista for ncaa athletes, there are 281,699 male and 222,920 female athletes in all ncaa sports and divisions for a tital of 504,619 athletes. Divide that by 250 for our 1 in 250 from the nih, and youve got about 2018 athletes who would be trans. Thats over the 3 divisions and all supported sports.

That 2018 is a far cry from your statement of 20k – 40k which may be… Read more »

ACC
Reply to  Hmm
3 months ago

The program for LGBTQ, not for just trans people. So the number of LGBTQ folks is the more applicable number.

kazoo
Reply to  ACC
3 months ago

where comes your 10–20 percent number?

kazoo
Reply to  Taa
3 months ago

54 LGBT “facilitators” just for Divsion Three? What???

Ally, not homophobe
Reply to  Taa
3 months ago

“54 facilitators? That means there are still 53 left and they probably need to let go of another 50 or so.”

There are some difficult questions about the participation of AMAB individuals who went through male puberty in women’s categories in elite sports – but when the people claiming to care oh so much about AFAB athletes can’t hide their homophobia, it’s difficult to take their arguments seriously.

zyzz brah
3 months ago

Debussy

Steve Nolan
Reply to  zyzz brah
3 months ago

Not to be confused with the composer.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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