Other Campuses: NCAA working on new policy for transgender athletes

By Daily Brain

(U-WIRE) LOS ANGELES – It’s an issue that has barely grazed the surface at the professional level and may not even have an impact in collegiate athletics.

Nevertheless, the NCAA is working on a proposal to allow transgender individuals to compete in their self-identified gender and plans to present it to the Committee on Women’s Athletics at its July meeting. UCLA Associate Athletic Director Petrina Long said the school would embrace any policy the NCAA adopts.

Gail Dent, an associate director of public relations for the NCAA, said the plan will likely mirror the International Olympic Committee’s and will hopefully go into effect by this October.

The IOC’s policy allows athletes who have undergone gender reassignment surgery to compete in their new gender if it has been two years since their surgery and since they stopped taking the requisite hormone-related therapy.

“This is the next big equity issue in athletics,” said Pat Griffin, a professor of social justice education at the University of Massachusetts. “It’s important to try to get ahead of things.”

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Concerns from the NCAA’s membership prompted the recent discussion. Yet while many activists feel such a policy is needed, critics have charged that male-to-female transgender individuals will retain size and strength advantages that give them a natural advantage. Cyd Zeigler, founder of Outsports.com, did not say he was necessarily against an NCAA policy, but did believe there were issues of fairness involved.

“If someone is a man all his life, at what point is the benefit negated, and is it an equal playing field?” he said.

At the professional level, the IOC is not alone in bodies that have already addressed this topic. The United States Golf Association joined the Australian and European tours in adopting a policy last month allowing transgender individuals to compete in the sport.

Mianne Bagger, an Australian golfer who has placed in the top 20 at numerous professional tournaments in Sweden, is considered to be the most well-known beneficiary of the policy.

It is still unclear how many others like her will benefit from these rules. Zeigler feels a policy will have a particularly minimal effect at the collegiate level.

“Those who have had a sex change by the time they’re 18 is such a miniscule number of people,” Zeigler said. “It probably won’t impact athletes for decades.”

– Andrew Finley