NAIA Bans Transgender Women From Competing

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Story by Kendall Lafferty

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is the first major sports
governing body that oversees more than 83,000 athletes at more than 200 colleges
to ban transgender women from competing in women’s sports. The policy states, “Only
student-athletes whose assigned sex at birth is female will be allowed to compete on
NAIA-sponsored women’s sports teams” (Yurcaba). The NAIA council voted 20-0 to approve
this policy, which will take effect on August 1st, 2024. Transgender men and transmasculine
students can still compete on women’s teams as long as they have not yet started masculinizing
hormone therapy, athletes that have started this hormone therapy will not be allowed to compete
in NAIA competition. Although these athletes cannot participate in competition, they can
participate in workouts, practices, and other team activities for women’s teams. The policy is “at
the discretion of their college” when it comes to both trans men and women competing on men’s
teams. According to the policy, cheer and dance teams are open to all students, but all other
sports include a combination of strength, speed, and stamina that provide male students with a
competitive advantage.

Because of this new policy, LGBTQ+ rights organizations have filed lawsuits against
many states that restrict transgender students from participating in athletics, with the argument
that they violate Title IX. Title IX is the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on
biological sex in federally funded schools. Shiwali Patel the senior counsel for the National
Women’s Law Center says “This is unacceptable and blatant discrimination that not only harms
trans, nonbinary, and intersex individuals, but limits the potential of all athletes…It’s important to
recognize that these discriminatory policies don’t enhance fairness in competition. Instead, they
send a message of exclusion and reinforce dangerous stereotypes that harm all women.” (“NAIA

Bans Trans Athletes from Women’s Sports”). The NAIA CEO has responded to the backlash
that this policy has received by saying “We know there are a lot of opinions, and a lot of people
have a very emotional reaction to this, and we want to be respectful of all that…But we feel like
our primary responsibility is fairness in competition, so we are following that path. And we’ve
tried as best we could to allow for some participation by all.”(Yurcaba).

What Does This Mean for NCAA?

Although Rutgers-Camden was not directly affected by this policy, as the governing body
for our sports is the NCAA. NCAA stands for National Collegiate Athletic Association, which
oversees about 363 Division 1 schools, 313 Division 2 schools, and 442 Division 3 schools.
Since 2011, trans women have been permitted to participate on women’s sports teams as long as
they have undergone a year of testosterone suppression. However, in January 2022, this policy
was changed in response to transgender swimmer Lia Thomas. The University of Pennsylvania
swimmer won numerous races in the early part of her season allowing her to soon win the
NCAA title. There was lots of backlash due to Lia Thomas’ victory which sparked the NCAA to
change their policy to a sport-by-sport approach to determine eligibility. A few hours after the
NAIA announced their new policy, the NCAA released a statement saying “College sports are
the premier stage for women’s sports in America and the NCAA will continue to promote Title
IX, make unprecedented investments in women’s sports and ensure fair competition for all
student-athletes in all NCAA championships.” (“NAIA Bans Trans Athletes from Women’s
Sports”). This is an extremely complex issue that often gets politicized; many believe that it may
take a Supreme Court ruling to come up with a fair solution.

“NAIA Bans Trans Athletes from Women’s Sports.”, 8 Apr. 2024,
52&usg=AOvVaw0-65r0VpKhpjwRKL_OtqHp. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.
Yurcaba, Jo. “NAIA Bans Transgender Women from Competing in Women’s Sports.” NBC
News, 9 Apr. 2024,

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