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NCAA Suggests It Won’t Hold Championships In States With Anti-Trans Laws

The organization’s statement comes as several states have passed or are considering anti-trans laws that ban trans athletes from competing as their gender in school sports.

The NCAA logo on the field during the Division III Women's Soccer Championship held at UNCG Soccer Stadium on December 7, 2019 in Greensboro, North Carolina. | Getty Images
The NCAA logo on the field during the Division III Women's Soccer Championship held at UNCG Soccer Stadium on December 7, 2019 in Greensboro, North Carolina. | Getty Images

The NCAA expressed support of transgender athletes and suggested it would not hold championships in states that have discriminatory laws. The organization’s announcement comes as several states have passed or are considering anti-trans laws that target student athletes. 

In a statement Monday, the NCAA Board of Governors said it “unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.”

“Inclusion and fairness can coexist for all student-athletes, including transgender athletes, at all levels of sport,” the statement continued. “When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.”

The NCAA also reiterated its policy on transgender athletes, which includes requiring trans women to receive testosterone suppression treatment to compete on women-only teams. 

In the organization's transgender athlete policy, the NCAA writes that concerns about trans women competing on women’s teams are “not well founded” and are based on multiple assumptions, including that trans women have a physical advantage. Several Republican leaders have used various arguments while pushing bills that prevent trans women and girls from competing in school sports; Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) said transgender athletes would “destroy women’s sports.”

“It is important not to overgeneralize,” the policy states. “The assumption that all male-bodied people are taller, stronger, and more highly skilled in a sport than all female-bodied people is not accurate.”

State legislatures have introduced more than 80 anti-trans bills this year, making it a “record year for anti-transgender legislation,” according to the Human Rights Council. In March alone, GOP-led states including Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas passed bills that restrict trans athletes from competing as their gender in school sports. 

In early April, the Arkansas legislature also voted to override Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill banning doctors from giving trans youth gender-affirming treatment. The law is now set to take effect this summer, and opponents are planning to challenge it in court. 

The American Civil Liberties Union — which has legally challenged several anti-trans laws — applauded the NCAA’s announcement, saying: “State lawmakers take note: discriminating against trans youth is wrong, against the law, and costly.”

Adnan Khan contributed to this report.

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