The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) board of governors voted on Wednesday to adopt a policy that allows and even encourages males to participate in women’s sports despite the physical advantage they have in competition.
Under the new rules, male athletes who claim to be female will be allowed to play in women’s sports based on the guidelines and determination of each sport’s governing body. Those sports that do not answer to a higher body will automatically be required to follow the International Olympic Committee’s lax rules, which use subjective judgment to determine participation.
“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.”
Conversations about the NCAA’s participation policies resurfaced this year when male University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas switched from the men’s swim team to the women’s swim team after claiming he was no longer a man. After the switch, Thomas easily beat female competitors and even smashed records that women swimmers had not yet reached.
Under the NCAA’s new policy, which proudly claims to “preserve opportunity for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete,” male athletes such as Thomas will be allowed to participate in women’s sports based on testosterone requirements set by each sport’s governing body.
Proponents of the policy claim the testing requirements will eliminate inequalities created by biology, but studies show that the elimination of just one of the genetic factors that set males apart from females does not ensure physical equality in sex-based competitions.
Opponents of the policy note that endorsing males’ participation in women’s sports not only removes opportunities for women but also violates federal laws such as Title IX that intend to protect opportunities for female athletes.
“The NCAA’s decision to endorse the participation of biological men in women’s sports, while making each sporting body decide the particular rules for participation, is a colossal act of cowardice. Make no mistake, by asking female athletes to step aside to make room for biological males, the NCAA discriminates against women,” said Jennifer C. Braceras, director of the Independent Women’s Law Center.
“Allowing biological males to compete in women’s events not only reduces opportunities for females, it undermines the entire rationale behind single-sex competition. It’s time for athletic governing bodies to stand up for women’s sports,” stated Inez Stepman, a senior policy analyst at IWF and IWLC and a Federalist contributor.