College association votes to require athletes to compete according to biological sex

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics announced Monday that only biological females can compete in female sports, blocking transgender-identifying men from doing so.

With its vote, the NAIA, an association that covers mostly small colleges, has become the first national college governing body to make such a decision, teeing up the question for the much-larger National Collegiate Athletic Association.

“We are unwavering in our support of fair competition for our student-athletes,” NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr said in a press release. “It is crucial that NAIA member institutions, conferences, and student-athletes participate in an environment that is equitable and respectful. With input from our member institutions and the Transgender Task Force, the NAIA’s Council of Presidents has confirmed our path forward.”

The Council of Presidents’s vote means that starting on Aug. 1, schools under the NAIA banner will have to start complying with the conditions set in the “transgender participation policy,” which states “only students whose biological sex is female” may compete in female sports.

While the organization will allow all students to compete in men’s sports, it is now blocking all biological males from female sports. It will also start limiting female students who have started a medical transition process, such as “masculinizing hormone therapy,” to “activities internal to the institution” and “external competition that is not a countable contest as defined by the NAIA.”

The NAIA, which covers 241 member schools, said it believes its policy is in line with the true intent of Title IX, saying the civil rights statute “ensures there are separate and equal opportunities for female athletes.”

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Conservatives have been questioning the fairness of allowing biologically male students to compete against women in sports, which was highlighted in 2022 when University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, a biological male who identifies as a transgender woman, won the NCAA Division I championship.

In 2022, the NCAA announced a strategy to determine transgender-identifying athletes’ participation in sports, allowing the governing bodies of each individual sport to make the determination.

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