A recent protest outside of the NCAA Convention in San Antonio brought attention to their decision to include transgender athletes in women’s sports. The protest was organized by the Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) and included University of Kentucky swimmer, Riley Gaines.
The current policy states that transgender student-athlete participation is to be left on a case-by-case basis, determined by “the national governing body of that sport.” This policy falls flat when considering that in several sports, trans women are banned at both the national and international levels, including swimming and rugby.
Last year, Gaines competed against the University of Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas, a transgender athlete, in NCAA’s swimming and diving championships. She has spoken about the matter previously, including with former US Senate candidate Herschel Walker and at a rally held by Donald Trump.
Last year, in a study done by the E-Alliance, a cross-disciplinary panel of researchers found that “Testosterone levels do not predict athletic performance or overall athleticism.” Several individuals and organizations, however still argue that NCAA’s ruling will do more harm than good to women’s sports.
In a tweet, three-time Olympic gold medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar slammed the NCAA, accusing them of not listening to female athletes and making people less empathetic to transgendered athletes. Christina Kiefer, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that has faced backlash for its anti-LGBT views, was also in attendance. Kiefer tweeted an image of the protest, with the phrase “protect #womenssports!”
Other groups, including Athlete Ally, are defending the ruling. “We appreciate that the NCAA is taking the steps necessary to reassess the best way to support all student-athletes,” said Dr. Anna Baeth, Ally’s Director of Research.
Schuyler Bailar, a trans man who swims for the Harvard swim team, believes the NCAA’s decision is in good faith. “I think they’re ever moving, ever-evolving. And fairness is ever-evolving, as well.”