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NCAA Updates Policy on Transgender Athlete Participation

On Wednesday, the NCAA announced it had updated its policy regarding participation for transgender athletes, adopting a model that is in line with those used by the U.S. and International Olympic Committees. The Board of Governors voted in support of a sport-by-sport approach to participation that “preserves opportunity for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete.” The new policy will be effective immediately.

Transgender athlete participation will now be determined by the national governing body of that particular sport. If no national governing body exists, the international federation policy would be followed. The IOC's previously established criteria would take effect next if there is no international federation policy.

Transgender athletes will be required to document sport-specific testosterone levels four weeks before their sport’s championship selections. For the 2022–23 academic year, the deadline will be at the beginning of their sport’s season, with a second documentation six months after the first.

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“We are steadfast in our support of transgender student-athletes and the fostering of fairness across college sports,” Georgetown president and chair of the board John DeGioia said. “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.”

The NCAA’s Office of Inclusion and the Sport Science Institute also released the Gender Identity and Student-Athlete Participation Summit Final Report, which included institutional actions aimed at improving the well-being and inclusion of transgender or nonbinary (TGNB) athletes. Among those recommendations are that institutions should identify at least one mental health provider to provide culturally sensitive care to TGNB athletes, as well as implement regular reviews to ensure that the primary responsibility for educating others about TGNB issues is not being placed on TGNB athletes.

“Approximately 80% of U.S. Olympians are either current or former college athletes," NCAA president Mark Emmert said. “This policy alignment provides consistency and further strengthens the relationship between college sports and the U.S. Olympics."

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