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Significant Move: NAIA Bans Transgender Athletes from Women’s Sports

via NewsNation
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The NAIA, which governs sports for many small private colleges, issued a ruling effectively banning transgender women from competing in women’s sports based on their biological sex.

The policy passed overwhelmingly 20-0.

“Only NAIA student-athletes whose biological sex is female may participate in NAIA-sponsored female sports,” the policy said.

“A student who has begun masculinizing hormone therapy may participate in: All activities that are internal to the institution (does not include external competition), including workouts, practices, and team activities. Such participation is at the discretion of the NAIA member institution where the student is enrolled; and External competition that is not a countable contest as defined by the NAIA (per NAC Policy Article XXV, Section A, Item 12). Such participation is at the discretion of the NAIA member institution where the student is enrolled.”

Transgender athletes can still participate in workouts and non-official competitions if undergoing hormone therapy, but must compete according to their sex assigned at birth in official competitions.

Proponents argue it protects fairness and women’s opportunities as originally intended by Title IX, while critics say it discriminates against transgender athletes.

“We know there are a lot of different opinions out there,” NAIA president Jim Carr said.

“For us, we believed our first responsibility was to create fairness and competition in the NAIA. … We also think it aligns with the reasons Title IX was created. You’re allowed to have separate but equal opportunities for women to compete,” he said.

“It’s important to know that the male sports are open to anyone,” he said.

As the first national college governing body to mandate this, it could set a precedent for the NCAA to follow, though some advocates argue the NCAA should not follow this approach.

“The task force spent nearly two years reviewing research, meeting with experts to better understand potential policy challenges, and obtaining feedback from multiple membership groups,” Council of Presidents chair and St. Ambrose University president Amy Novak stated.

“With this policy, the NAIA has made its best effort to allow for the inclusion of transgender athletes in any way which does not impact the competitive fairness of women’s sports. Our priority is to protect the integrity of women’s athletics and allow them equal opportunity to succeed,” she said.

“Each NAIA sport includes some combination of strength, speed and stamina, providing competitive advantages for male student-athletes. As a result, the NAIA policy for transgender student-athletes applies to all sports except for competitive cheer and competitive dance, which are open to all students,” the NAIA said.

“I think that [the NAIA vote] provides a feeling that the NCAA would have the latitude to do the same,” Athlete Ally director of research Anna Baeth said. “I think that that feeling of latitude would be incredibly misguided.”

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