NCAA Issues New Guidelines for Transgender Student Athletes
When George Washington University student Kye Allums came out last year, he was worried about keeping his basketball scholarship.
As a transgender man who plays women’s basketball, the rules were nebulous: Not only did he face potential rejection by his teammates, but there was also little precedent for the treatment of transgender student athletes in sex-segregated sports.
Luckily, his teammates and coach accepted him, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association ruled—with input from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Women’s Sports Foundation, and It Takes A Team—that Allums would have no problems competing on the women’s team as long as he did not undergo hormone replacement therapy.
Now, the NCAA has made these rules official by approving a definitive policy for trans athletes last week.
Under the new policy, trans women may play on women’s teams as long as they have been taking hormone blockers for one year, and trans men may play on men’s teams if they are on testosterone therapy. Trans men who have started hormones may not, however, play on women’s teams.
The policy was based heavily on a report from the NCLR called “On the Team: Equal Opportunity for Transgender Student Athletes.” [PDF]
Along with suggesting guidelines for inclusion, the report offers suggestions for welcoming transgender students who wish to participate in sports—including proper pronoun and name use, advocacy for discrimination protection based on gender identity, and the importance of privacy for transgender students. The NCAA sportsmanship policy has always barred transphobic language from games.
One transgender student athlete, Keelin Godsey, told the authors of the NCLR report, “I have found it nearly impossible to be both trans and an athlete. Being an athlete and being trans are both a part of my identity. I wish I didn’t feel like I have to choose one or the other.”
Under the official NCAA policy, Godsey won’t have to choose.
The new guidelines will mean greater acceptance and inclusion of transgender students like Godsey and Allums in high school and collegiate athletics, integrating trans people in more of student life.
Shay O'Reilly is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @shaygabriel.