New NAIA policy restricts transgender athletes from women's sports

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Posted at 5:19 PM, Apr 08, 2024

KANSAS CITY — The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics on Monday approved a policy that will significantly limit transgender athletes from participating in women's sports.

The NAIA's Council of Presidents, on the recommendation of a task force that was created two years ago, agreed to a policy which states, per a document on the organization's website, that "only NAIA athletes whose biological sex is female may participate in NAIA-sponsored female sports."

The policy states:

  • A student who has not begun any masculinizing hormone therapy may participate without limitation.
  • 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. Such participation is at the discretion of the NAIA member institution where the student is enrolled.

According to the NAIA's policy, "biological sex is defined by distinguishing characteristics and can be supported by birth certificate or signed affidavit. While rare, there have been cases where the sex assigned at birth does not match the biological sex, which led to the use of biological sex in this document."
The policy states that "an NAIA institution that has a student-athlete who has begun masculinizing hormone therapy must notify the NAIA national office. The national office will take the necessary steps to provide appropriate privacy protections."

It also states that all eligible NAIA student-athletes may participate in NAIA-sponsored male sports.

The policy notes that it will be subject to review "in light of any legal, scientific, or medical developments." The policy is scheduled to go into effect on Aug. 1. According to the Associated Press, it passed by a 20-0 vote from the Council of Presidents.

The Frontier Conference is affiliated with the NAIA. Montana colleges that compete athletically in the NAIA include Carroll College in Helena, Montana Tech in Butte, Montana Western in Dillon, MSU-Northern in Havre, the University of Providence in Great Falls, and Rocky Mountain College in Billings.

The NAIA oversees more than 80,000 student-athletes competing at small colleges across the United States.

The NAIA stated, "With the exception of competitive cheer and competitive dance, the NAIA created separate categories for male and female participants. 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."

In 2021, Montana's Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill banning transgender women from athletic participation on female collegiate sports teams. That bill was later ruled unconstitutional and blocked by Gallatin County District Court Judge Rienne McElyea.