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NAIA Bans Transgender Athletes From Women's Sports

'Only NAIA student-athletes whose biological sex is female may participate in NAIA-sponsored female sports'

NAIA Bans Transgender Athletes From Women's Sports

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has updated its transgender participation policy barring biological men from competing against women at its 241 colleges across the U.S, marking one of the largest restrictions to hit college sports.

After two years of work, the NAIA Council of Presidents approved the policy in a unanimous 20-0 vote. The NAIA, which governs more than 83,000 student-athletes, is the first collegiate sports organization to bar men from competing against women.

Under the updated policy, which takes effect Aug. 1, all eligible male student-athletes may compete in NAIA-sponsored male sports.

“Title IX ensures there are separate and equal opportunities for female athletes,” the new policy states. “As a result, the NAIA offers separate categories of competition in all sports except for competitive cheer and competitive dance, which are both co-ed.”

For sports designated as female, “Only NAIA student-athletes whose biological sex is female may participate in NAIA-sponsored female sports,” the new rule states. Under the new rules, biological women who identify as male are able to participate on women’s teams, as long as they have not started hormone therapy.

Any biological female who has begun any masculanizing hormone therapy treatments cannot compete against females and may only attend workouts, practices, and team activities. Even those activities are subject to the approval of the college or university where the student is enrolled.

NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr told the Associated Press (AP) he knows the policy will be controversial, but explained that it is best for member schools.

“We know there are a lot of opinions, and a lot of people have a very emotional reaction to this, and we want to be respectful of all that,” Carr said. “But we feel like our primary responsibility is fairness in competition, so we are following that path. And we’ve tried as best we could to allow for some participation by all.”

The policy change drew swift outrage from LGBTQ organizations.

“This policy is a failure of leadership by NAIA and marks a sad day for women’s sports,” Hudson Taylor, founder and executive director Athlete Ally, an activist organization with a stated mission of ending transphobia in sports, said in a statement. “We hope other sport governing bodies don’t also succumb to political pressure, and instead fight for a future of sports where everyone belongs.”

“NAIA President Jim Carr admits there has never been a trans woman in post-season competition in the history of the organization,” wrote athlete and founder of Chris Mosier in an Instagram post. “This decision is clearly due to political pressure and not any real issue with transgender women in NAIA sports.”

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