NCAA’s New Rules Ensure Trans Athletes Won’t Play For The Wrong Team

Throughout his childhood, Kye Allums’ mother tried dressing him up as a girl. But after coming out to his mom as a lesbian in his teen years, he eventually came out again his sophomore year in college as a transgender man. Allums said, “I feel I should’ve been born male with male parts, but my biological sex is female, which makes me a transgender male.”

The tricky part was that even though Allums had begun dressing and presenting himself as a male, he played basketball with the George Washington University’s women’s team. He decided not to undergo testosterone therapy seeing as back then (November 2010) the National Collegiate Athletic Association had not yet figured out how to handle trans athletes. So for a while, the question remained: should trans athletes play on the team of their biological gender or their gender identity?

Well, the NCAA finally came up with an answer.

Effective immediately the NCAA has come up with the following rules to help teams sort trans-identified players:

– A transgender male student athlete who has a medical exception for testosterone hormone therapy may compete on a men’s team, but is no longer eligible to compete on a women’s team without changing the team status to a mixed team.

– A transgender female student athlete who has taken medication to suppress testosterone for a year may compete on a women’s team.

– Under the new policy, transgender student athletes who are not undergoing hormone therapy remain eligible to play on teams based on the gender of their birth sex and may socially transition by dressing and using the appropriate pronouns that match their gender identity.

Helen Carroll, project director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Sports Project said, “This new policy that will not only allow, but encourage transgender student athletes to participate on athletic teams. This is truly historic, and it will give transgender student athletes equal access and opportunities to play college-level sports without any obstacles.”

Even though Allums no longer plays for the George Washington team (because of concussions that occurred during play), other trans students can at least look up to his bravery and step up their game knowing that thanks to the NCAA rules, they can compete as their true self.

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  • Thomas Maguire

    I’m glad the NCAA has affirmed the rights of the trans community to be part of student athletics, which is a vital part of the college experience.

  • Hyhybt

    This sounds awfully familiar… did they announce exactly the same rule change a year or so ago, or was that another organization?

  • Joe

    Hey, someone did something right! My day just got better.

  • Tamara

    The policy sounds biased towards trans men and against trans women… So if I’m reading it right, trans men can play on men’s teams immediately after starting T, while trans women have to wait a year!?

  • Hyhybt

    @Tamara: It’s not perfect, but they have to balance being fair to the trans person with being fair to the other participants. In both cases, the men’s team is expected to be stronger, and that’s due to the influence of testosterone. Apparently, it takes about a year for the effects to wear off, and it probably takes a similar length of time for them to take full effect. So in both cases, those in between play with the men, to avoid giving an advantage to the women’s team. Yes, it also means that in both cases they’re at somewhat of a disadvantage on the men’s team, but it means they can still play the sport at all during that year. Do you have a better way of doing it?

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