NAIA, Ban, Transgender Athletes, Women’s Sports, The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, hormone therapy

National Association Of Intercollegiate Athletics Bans Transgender Athletes From Participating In Women’s Sports 

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The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics approved a policy that bans transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports. 

The governing body for small colleges, overseeing close to 83,000 college athletes, voted 20-0 on Apr. 8 and is the first college sports organization to decide on trans athletes. The policy states that all athletes are allowed to participate in NAIA-sponsored male sports; however, only athletes whose biological sex assigned at birth is female and who have not started hormone therapy will be allowed to play in women’s sports.

Athletes who have begun hormone therapy will be required to notify the NAIA national office, but will be allowed to participate in workouts, practices, and team activities.

In a statement, President & CEO Jim Carr admitted that he knows the decision will cause a lot of controversy but ultimately feels “fair competition” is the goal.

“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 new policy will go into effect on Aug. 1 and apply to all sports outside of cheer and dance, which are separate categories in the organization. The NAIA’s 2023-24 policy did not have regulations against transgender or nonbinary athletes competing in the division of their choice in the regular season. During the postseason, with some exceptions for athletes who started hormone therapy, athletes had to compete in the division of their birth sex.

LGBTQ rights advocate groups ripped the policy. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) says it “undermines basic decency deserved by all student-athletes.”

“The benefits of sports to the mind, body, and spirit are well known. Every student, including transgender student-athletes, deserves the opportunity to be a part of a team and to learn about sportsmanship, self-discipline, perseverance and more,” President Kelley Robinson said. 

Shiwali Patel, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, described the ban as “unacceptable and blatant discrimination.” “It’s important to recognize that these discriminatory policies don’t enhance fairness in competition,” Patel said. “Instead, they send a message of exclusion and reinforce dangerous stereotypes that harm all women.”

Since 2020, approximately 25 states have implemented laws restructuring transgender athletes from competing on school sports teams corresponding with their gender identity. The issue has become a hot topic for conservative groups and others who believe transgender athletes shouldn’t be allowed to compete in girls’ and women’s sports teams. 

More than a dozen current and former college athletes have filed federal lawsuits against the NCAA, accusing the organization of violating their rights by allowing transgender women to compete in women’s sports. In March 2024, World Athletics set new rules banning transgender women from competing in female track and field events and prohibiting any transgender women who have experienced male puberty from competing in the female categories.

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