NCAA Announces Changes to Transgender Athlete Policies Effective Immediately; Defers to USA Swimming

Lia Thomas - NCAA

NCAA Announces Changes to Transgender Athlete Policies Effective Immediately; Defers to USA Swimming

Following a Board of Governors meeting Wednesday, the NCAA has announced changes to its policies regarding transgender athletes participating in women’s sports, and those changes could impact the ability of Penn’s Lia Thomas to compete in this season’s NCAA Championships. While trans females were previously allowed to compete in women’s events after undergoing one year of hormone-suppression therapy, the new policy will bring U.S. collegiate sports in line with national and international governing bodies and with the international Olympic movement.

In the case of swimming, this means that NCAA athletes will be governed by USA Swimming regulations regarding transgender participation.

The NCAA said in a press release Wednesday evening: “Like the Olympics, the updated NCAA policy calls for transgender participation for each sport to be determined by the policy for the national governing body of that sport, subject to ongoing review and recommendation by the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports to the Board of Governors. If there is no NGB policy for a sport, that sport’s international federation policy would be followed. If there is no international federation policy, previously established IOC policy criteria would be followed.”

The press release goes on to say that transgender athletes “will need to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections” beginning with the 2022 winter championships, which includes swimming and diving in March, and in future seasons, athletes will need to show documented levels of testosterone at the beginning of the season, six months later and four weeks before championships.

However, there is a caveat: according to the release, “The Board of Governors urged the divisions to provide flexibility to allow for additional eligibility if a transgender student-athlete loses eligibility based on the policy change provided they meet the newly adopted standards.” That “flexibility” may allow currently-eligible trans athletes, a group that includes Thomas, to continue competing for the remainder of the season even without meeting the documented levels.

USA Swimming does not have a formal policy regarding transgender athletes, but the organization typically follows IOC medical criteria when applicable. Such criteria state that “trans female athletes must demonstrate a total testosterone level in serum below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 consecutive months prior to competition and must remain below this threshold throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category in any event.” However, it is unclear if this standard will apply to NCAA competition, and Swimming World has reached out to the NCAA for clarification.

It is also unclear whether USA Swimming plans to make any changes to its transgender participation policies that would also affect the NCAA.

Thomas currently owns the fastest times in the nation in the women’s 200 and 500-yard freestyle, and she figures be among the top contenders in those events along with the 1650 freestyle at the NCAA Championships in March.

“We are steadfast in our support of transgender student-athletes and the fostering of fairness across college sports,” said John DeGioia, chair of the board and Georgetown president, according to the release. “It is important that NCAA member schools, conferences and college athletes compete in an inclusive, fair, safe and respectful environment and can move forward with a clear understanding of the new policy.”

Update: In a memo released to institutions Thursday afternoon, the NCAA reiterated it stance that transgender athletes “must provide documentation to the CSMAS within four weeks before the selections date for their championship.” The memo added that “student-athletes who have already fulfilled the 2010 NCAA policy need only provide one validated serum testosterone level.” For any transgender athletes competing in non-championship events for the remainder of the academic year, they do not need to fulfill any new requirements so long as they meet the old requirement of one year of hormone-suppression therapy.

Click here to read the full release from the NCAA.

51 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
avatar
L
8 months ago

What are the acceptable testosterone levels in a man’s body competing as a woman?

avatar
Anonymous
8 months ago
Reply to  L

Whatever they are must be equal, anything greater is cheating.

avatar
Alison
8 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

10 nml’s is approximately 5x higher the the upper levels of natural female testosterone which is 0.3 – 2.0 nml’s. So yes, apart from all the other advantages such as greater height, arm length, upper body strength etc, they still have a testosterone advantage too. How this is seen as fair is beyond me.

avatar
Just Thinking Here
8 months ago
Reply to  L

I am offering a suggestion. If transgender athletes are competing in swimming perhaps they should add 10 seconds to the time that they finish with.

avatar
Sheldon
7 months ago

NCAA officials should be ashamed of themselves for destroying all these hard working young ladies dreams to avoid the political impact of protecting them.
This makes NO sense..
My child swam in college, my support for your programs is gone

avatar
Laurie
8 months ago

A female is not a hormone level! A female is determined at conception. Males can never “become” or “transition” into a female. Human sex is binary and immutable. Sports are competed by sex, male or female. Anything else is unfair to females. Let males who “feel” like females (trans identified males) compete against other trans identified males. Period.

avatar
Anonymous
8 months ago
Reply to  Laurie

This is true. No such thing as a transgender female. Look in your pants. You were created this way.

avatar
LLf
8 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Look at your pelvis. That bone structure is the defining feature between males and females. They can remove parts but they haven’t started changing the pelvic structures…yet. :-\

avatar
Jeff jordan
8 months ago
Reply to  Laurie

Thomas still has the advantage over Real Women.
Sick world!

avatar
Sarah
8 months ago
Reply to  Laurie

Yes!

avatar
Charlie
8 months ago
Reply to  Laurie

Exactly!!

avatar
Jack Simon
8 months ago

More stupidity by NCAA but even worse by USA Swimming

avatar
steevo
8 months ago
Reply to  Jack Simon

Yup. What is the point in having rules if they are not going to apply through “flexibility to allow for additional eligibility”. Bowing to the woke mob. Complete BS

avatar
Mom
8 months ago

Trans female athletes don’t exist.

A male can’t become a female.

avatar
Sarah
8 months ago
Reply to  Mom

Yup.

avatar
Athlete now
8 months ago

The fact that female sport is being dissected and debated by all and sundry  is a travesty in and of itself. We are our own category, female.

We are not a category based on identity, or an idea, or a testosterone level. We are not a category that exists for the purposes of inclusion for all, to the detriment of our own inclusion.

Leave us alone. No really, leave women alone. Let female athletes compete against female athletes. Stop with the arbitrary ideas, rules and shuffling of the deck chairs. Women deserve more than this.

avatar
mz. sweet lips
8 months ago
Reply to  Athlete now

100% this.

Even for those who fully believe in this idea of “gender identity”, there’s still NO reasonable basis for using any such thing to determine who competes with whom in a PHYSICAL SPORT.

Cynthia Millen, the US Swimming official who resigned over this whole mess, put it perfectly: In the pool, it’s bodies swimming against other bodies—NOT identities swimming against other identities.

avatar
Ash
6 months ago
Reply to  mz. sweet lips

seems like we should be able to separate the body from the gender when naming the categories. Would it be fair to create categories based on physiological differences? I understand it’s slapping a new label on say ‘girl’s track’ but we could have estrogen/testosterone thresholds and 4-7 degree anterior rotation group and ‘7.1 and over’ group. Different sports require unique skills and body composition, so perhaps male and female is too generalized even if you’re only looking at the cis population. We’re pretty lost for being a generation raised hearing “you can be whatever you want to be”. Now that it’s coming true our parents are like “uh crap we didn’t really mean it”

avatar
4Real
8 months ago
Reply to  Athlete now

Well said!!!!

avatar
Curious
8 months ago

Does this mean that any Female that identifies as a Male get disqualified from any female sports or activities?

Where does it end?

avatar
Richard
8 months ago

Transgender is not a gender at all, it is a lifestyle. For a man who identifies as a woman to compete against a female is completely ludicrous. Come on people, enough is enough. Shut this down completely and make (IT) swim against the men. The only reason IT is doing this is because IT can’t compete against other men. His times don’t even come close in the men’s division. It wants to be relevant, so here we are, making a circus out of competitive women’s swimming. Just a disgrace! It needs to go away

avatar
Bob
8 months ago
Reply to  Richard

While I think trans women should compete in some kind of open event your use of the word it is horrid.

avatar
Robert Piper
8 months ago

This is just insanity. Nothing more. And when the trans take all the females scholarships and titles, maybe the ladies will rise up. Maybe not. Is Women Lib dead? Apparently so. Ya’all get back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. Pathetic.

avatar
Jim
8 months ago

You should have to swim with what ever sex you were born no questions asked. Regardless of testosterone level you are still born with advantages suck as height length of arms hand size foot size and so on.

avatar
Anonymous
8 months ago

Forget the BS. Do the right thing.

avatar
Fair Play
8 months ago

Ludicrous. Stop the insanity. At what point do we get to say the truth without getting branded homophobic. You can’t change genders, and really these people have a mental illness that we are enabling with all of the positive promotion and portrayal that changing genders is courageous.

avatar
Hey SwimmingWorld
8 months ago

At what point are y’all going to delete the horrendously transphobic comments

avatar
Wanda
8 months ago

When they stop interfering with cisgender women in sports?

avatar
Tea
8 months ago
Reply to  Wanda

There is no cisgender woman. Only women and then there are men who think that they are women aka transwoman. No woman is a subset of woman, the word woman means adult human female. Thoughts do not change reality or science, humans have only two sex: female and male, like any other mammals.
A man can wear what ever, pump himself full of estrogen and he should not be treated wrongly but equally like any other human. But sport is when biology matters, the advantage of male puberty does not go away, large shoulders, narrow hips, more muscle, height, all these remain after dropping testisterone. No males (the ones born a male) in female sport!

avatar
steevo
8 months ago

Where are they? Reality, REAL WORLD does not make someone homophobic.

avatar
BG
8 months ago

Whe you Stop being heterophobic

avatar
Rick
8 months ago

Serious question, are natal women allowed to supplement their testosterone levels to transwomens allowed levels if they want or is that considered doping?

avatar
Sarah
8 months ago
Reply to  Rick

If women jacked up with exogenous T to NCAA accepted level for trans women of 10nmol/liter, they would be banned for doping. Insane.

avatar
WildBill
8 months ago

This is a time to stand up for women swimmers and fairness for all. As swimmers, male and female, we know instinctively biological men enjoy distinct physical advantages beyond testosterone including size, power and strength. You can see it in the pool. You can see it in the times in every age group from young to old.
Time to end the crazy.

avatar
Mariana
8 months ago

Every single woman competing against a man should be protesting against it, even if it means they all opt out of their events.

avatar
Chris Breedy
8 months ago

Very very sad situation for women swimming currently! The only hope would be for Lia to disqualify herself. These NGB are SO terrified of a lawsuit that they can’t even rule for the many impacted by this scientific and immature standing where a fully grown man decides to compete against women instead of holding off on transition until his participation does not hurt so many!
Injustice!

avatar
Tea
8 months ago
Reply to  Chris Breedy

If Lia would have thougt about anybody else (like women) other than h*mself, h* would have stayed in men’s competition. why stop winning if h* can do it and the NCCA let’s it, everybody likes to win, no?

avatar
FatherSwim
8 months ago

Thank goodness this is rectified because otherwise USA and NCAA swim reputation would be forever harmed. It is an unfair competitive advantage and one would have to be detached from reality not to understand it. The argument here is scientific in substance not biased by a sliding morality scale. Remember once upon a time there was a Barr body test that was tightly adhered to in Olympic competition.

avatar
Tami
8 months ago

There seems to be a problem here with the will of the people vs the governing boards. They are NOT representing and athlete or coach that I know The trade off is easy. If you want to identify as a woman but we’re born a man you may not compete against a woman is any sport where being a man gives you an edge over a woman. Maybe try playing chess

avatar
Phyllis Walker
8 months ago
Reply to  Tami

This is absolutely wrong and I can’t believe the women have not risen up to fight this. The testrone level is NOT equal. That should tell you something. Please let’s fight this.

avatar
Bobbi
8 months ago
Reply to  Phyllis Walker

I agree…. I’ve thought the same. Female athletes need to get vocal and fight this. Current and past women swimmers and the coaches should protest this! Fight for fairness in your sport. Stop being afraid to speak out against it!

avatar
Cindy
8 months ago

Thomas is not a female. Those records should be thrown out. Go swim against others trans….. You are living a life-style only, yo were born a male and will always be a male.

avatar
Ted
8 months ago

Please stop using a photo of a person as the face of this issue. Lia is not the first transgender althete in the NCAA and won’t be the last. This practice you have employed of repeatedly using her image when discussing this topic targets her as an individual and is harmful.

avatar
Magpie
8 months ago

Ruins women’s sports!!! It’s an outrage! Women have fought for so long to be competitive and legitimate! Female athletes should DEMAND that their natural sex be identified EXACTLY the same as the MALE athlete!
Trans should be a totally different category!!LEAVE women’s sports alone!!!!

avatar
A e L
8 months ago

Women are not defined by our testosterone levels, a man with low T is still a man and does not belong in women’s sports, no matter whether he thinks “in his soul” he is really really truly a woman.

avatar
Anonymous
8 months ago

Omg Go swim with men……you have to swim with woman because the men would tear you up. You r a man…… do not care what surgeries or if you think u r a woman u r a man………be a man and stand up for yourself and go swim with the men!!!!!!!

avatar
Tessa
8 months ago

It’s not just about the testosterone levels! It’s also the body shape, streamlined for swimming, the lung capacity, the muscle type and size, the breadth of the shoulders …

Free-for-all acceptance works in theory, the same way communism works in theory. But in practice, neither works. And all the biological girls competing against Thomas are a perfect example of how this sort of free-for-all acceptance doesn’t work in real life.

Why is it that trans rights must be built on ending women’s rights?

avatar
Anonymous
8 months ago

Well the fact that any guy/girl would even do this proves its not a woman. Real women have more empathy and sense of fairness Oh and we’re more nurturing also. What would my mother say? Honey I don’t think this is a good idea. Let’s see we got the debate club, the chess club, the book club,… And 1 million other things you can do. Now the bully is in the pool not on the playground.

avatar
Timothy Morrison
8 months ago

My question is who is analyzing the samples?

My comment
1. Transed women retain male natural anabolic advantages BEYOND serum testosterone.
2. There are a number of ways/substances/even OTC supplements that can suppress testosterone that likely aren’t tested for. Tests are geared to detect substances that raise testosterone not suppress it.

Allowing transed ‘women’ to compete against women not only creates messes per the above but is flat out unfair.

avatar
DD
8 months ago

Don’t confuse a choice of pronoun, which does no harm to respectfully use… with The scientific binary fact that she was born a man and she should compete against men. This is all about people being afraid of lawyers and consequences for doing the right thing. The right thing is not allowing her to compete with the women. Blame the lawyers.

avatar
Ryan
5 months ago

Its a terrible thing to do to all these girls. Especially, the ones at the top levels! I don’t need to be a scientist to figure out that its an advantage physically to be male. Why not just have them compete in the open division. If they win, nobody could say anything.