Wednesday, December 15, 2010

NCAA Working On Trans Athletic Policy Interpretation

I've been saying they have needed to do so for years along with other people inside and outside the community, and now it looks like the NCAA is finally getting around to it.  

According to the Inside Higher Ed blog the NCAA is putting together a policy interpretation on trans athletes that creates a pathway for us to compete that is fair to cis student athletes as well.

The NCAA working group from its Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports has come up with a set of recommendations nearly identical to ones issued in a report by the National Center on  Lesbian Rights and the Women's Sports Foundation. 

Kye Allums emergence as the first open trans athlete in NCAA Division I play has put a face on the issue as well as drawn much needed attention to it.   The IOC and other international sports governing bodies have been changing their policies since 2004 to allow the participation of trans athletes, and it was time for the NCAA o follow suit as well. 

It's always smarter to do so on your own rather than to do so while facing a lawsuit.

Outside of the 110 stealth trans athletes that are alleged to have competed at the NCAA level by Canadian world champion mountain biker Michelle Dumaresq, there has been another open transman who has competed in NCAA competition, but not at the high profile Division I level as Kye Allums is doing. . 

Transman Keelin Godsey was a Division III three discipline track athlete who competed in the hammer throw, shotput and discus at Bates College. He transitioned in 2005 under the same no testosterone parameters that Allums is now using..

On July 7, 2008 he attempted to become the first transperson ever to qualify for a national Olympic team and the Olympic Games in the women's hammer throw competition.    The two time Division III champion's best throw of 65.57 meters in the Olympic Trials left him 10 feet shy of making history and qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Games as he finished in seventh place.   

Under the proposed NCAA trans athlete policy interpretation, a transwoman would be permitted to play on a women’s team if that athlete has undergone testosterone suppression treatment for at least one year.

The member institution would have to provide the NCAA with written documentation of testosterone suppression for the year of treatment and documentation of ongoing monitoring to be eligible to play on a women’s team.

In the instance of a transman such as Allums, the athlete would be permitted to play on a men’s team at any time.

If the athlete wants hormone treatment, however, then the athlete must get a medical exception for the use of testosterone before being eligible to participate in intercollegiate athletics because the substance is on the NCAA’s banned drug list.

Athletes who transition socially, but do not seek hormone treatment, also have the option to compete for their birth-gender team.

Helen J. Carroll, director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ sports project said,."I’m very encouraged that the NCAA is moving forward in a positive way including transgendered student-athletes in a way that’s practical and works. It’s a very exciting time for the entire transgendered community.”

Carroll stated that this move by the NCAA may make it easier for transgender athletes to publicly come out about their status now that they know how they can maintain their eligibility to play sports.

I agree with her assessment.. I believe it has been that uncertainty that has kept more collegiate trans athletes from coming out

The NCAA’s national office staff is reviewing the interpretation to determine if it satisfactorily addresses the issue of trans athletes or if there is a need for further legislation to clarify it as official NCAA policy.  .

If the determination is made that further legislation on the issue is warranted, it would be considered by the NCAA member institutions during its upcoming 2011-12 legislative cycle.

Whatever way it transpires, since many of the state level high school athletic governing bodies in the United States follow NCAA rules, it could possibly have a trickle down effect in terms of their policies toward high school athletes in the various states as well.

But Helen Carroll is right.  It is definitely an exciting time for trans athletes currently matriculating in colleges across the nation, because the NCAA is working on a policy that not only allows us to get into the game but be our true selves while doing so.  .

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