In blow to trans student-athletes, NCAA drops eligibility policy that worked for more than a decade

In blow to trans student-athletes, NCAA drops eligibility policy that worked for more than a decade

In brief: Openly trans athletes will have to document testosterone levels four weeks before their championship selections. (What level of hormones is permissible will vary based on the sport. From there, they’ll have to provide a second round of documentation on hormone levels six months later.

In a statement, NCAA President Mark Emmert justified the change in policy by saying it’s bringing the organization to a consistent standard when looking at the IOC. “Approximately 80% of U.S. Olympians are either current or former college athletes,” Emmert’s statement reads in part. “This policy alignment provides consistency and further strengthens the relationship between college sports and the U.S. Olympics.”

The NCAA argues this change “preserves opportunities for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete.” But this decision sounds like it’s taking a “both sides” approach to an issue where the most vulnerable, marginalized folks already have minimal protections as it is.

As reported by ESPN, Chris Mosier, a duathlete, explained that the NCAA’s update ultimately brings about many complications that the organization may not be “equipped to handle.” Mosier said tracking compliance “is going to be a nightmare” for the organization and that this decision creates “many different standards” for trans athletes. 

As previously reported here at Daily Kos, we know that more than 500 college athletes signed a letter to the NCAA board of governors requesting that the association refuse to hold championship games in states that bar trans people from participating in sports. If actual student-athletes don’t have a problem, why in the world are Republicans creating faux hysteria about trans people playing sports? Because Republicans know people will cling onto fear and distraction, especially if it’s under the guise of protecting “women” in sports. 

Notably, this isn’t the only issue that has LGBTQ+ folks and allies worried about where queer athletes might fit into NCAA sports. As reported by 19th News, for example, the NCAA membership is meeting shortly to discuss proposed changes to its constitution, including the removal of a nondiscrimination statement.

The statement, notably, was only actually added to the organization’s constitution in 2021. In short, it exists to protect student-athletes from being rejected based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Looping back to the Republican-led efforts to discriminate against trans athletes on the state level, this could be a serious and growing issue in itself. But there’s still time for that important protection not to disappear … As long as people in power do the right thing.

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