NAIA Bans Transgender Athletes from Women’s Sports

Lighthouse Films_Getty Images
Lighthouse films/Getty Images

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) approved a measure on Monday that would block any male identifying as a female from infiltrating women’s sports.

The NAIA Council of Presidents passed the historic act without opposition by a vote of 20-0. The new ban on transgender athletes replaces the old ban, which only covered postseason competition, CBS Sports reports.

“We know there are a lot of different opinions out there,” NAIA President Jim Carr told CBS Sports. “For us, we believed our first responsibility was to create fairness and competition in the NAIA. … We also think it aligns with the reasons Title IX was created. You’re allowed to have separate but equal opportunities for women to compete.”

As of Monday, all athletes who compete under the auspices of the NAIA must compete in the gender category they were assigned at birth.

Carr hastened to add that trans athletes can still participate in sports.

“It’s important to know that the male sports are open to anyone,” Carr explained.

The rule also leaves open the possibility of trans athletes participating in exhibition games and events not sanctioned by NAIA.

The policy starkly contrasts with the NCAA’s policy, which allows the governing bodies of individual sports to decide for themselves the rules that dictate eligibility for trans athletes.

“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,” the NCAA said in a statement.

A group of former female athletes – including Riley Gaines – is currently suing the NCAA for violating their Title IX rights by forcing them to compete against and share changing rooms with a trans athlete.

“The task force spent nearly two years reviewing research, meeting with experts to better understand potential policy challenges, and obtaining feedback from multiple membership groups,” said Amy Novak, the chair of the Council of Presidents and President of St. Ambrose University. “With this policy, the NAIA has made its best effort to allow for the inclusion of transgender athletes in any way that does not impact the competitive fairness of women’s sports. Our priority is to protect the integrity of women’s athletics and allow them equal opportunity to succeed.”

The process leading up to the vote included a poll in which 58 of the 67 university presidents and chancellors who responded signaled their support for the rule change.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.