NCAA Adopts New Policy for Transgender Athletes

NCAA Adopts New Policy for Transgender Athletes Lia Thomas smiles with teammates University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas with teammates after finishing first in a 200 meter women's race in Philadelphia on Jan. 8. (Heather Khalfia/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

By Charlie McCarthy | Thursday, 20 January 2022 09:41 AM

The NCAA Board of Governors on Wednesday approved new guidelines regarding transgender athletes.

The governors voted to adopt a sport-by-sport approach for transgender athletes, bringing the organization in line with the U.S. and International Olympic Committees.

The new policy is effective immediately, beginning with the 2022 winter championships. Transgender students-athletes will be required to document sport-specific testosterone levels four weeks before their sport’s championship selections.

Under the new guidelines, transgender participation for each sport will be determined by the policy for the sport's national governing body, subject to review and recommendation by an NCAA committee to the board of governors.

When there is no national governing body, that sport's international federation policy would be in place. If there is no international federation policy, previously established IOC policy criteria would take over.

"We are steadfast in our support of transgender student-athletes and the fostering of fairness across college sports," Georgetown President John DeGioia said in a release.

"It is important that NCAA member schools, conferences and college athletes compete in an inclusive, fair, safe and respectful environment and can move forward with a clear understanding of the new policy."

Many people, however, believe transgender athletes should not compete in sports of the gender to which they have transitioned.

"I've said from the beginning, biological boys should not be playing in women’s sports," Caitlyn Jenner, who before transitioning in 2015 won the gold medal in men’s decathlon in the 1976 Olympics as Bruce Jenner, told Fox News.

"We need to protect women’s sports."

NCAA rules on transgender athletes returned to the forefront when University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas started smashing records this year. She was on the men’s team her first three years, but she is competing for the women this season after transitioning.

A group of parents of Penn swimmers sent a letter to the NCAA in mid-December to demand a rules adjustment regarding transgender athletes.

"The precedent being set — one in which women do not have a protected and equitable space to compete — is a direct threat to female athletes in every sport," the letter obtained by the Daily Mail read. "What are the boundaries? How is this in line with the NCAA's commitment to providing a fair environment for student-athletes? … It is the responsibility of the NCAA to address the matter with an official statement."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.