Cameo Tietje ‘18
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has rules and regulations on a vast number of topics, including athlete’s drug use and transgender student-athlete participation. For obvious reasons, such as performance enhancement, the NCAA bans substances like testosterone. Testosterone is a common hormonal drug taken by transgender students. Although there is no federal law that bans transgender discrimination, federal courts have demonstrated that it is discrimination based on sex, covered in Title VII. In an effort to ensure transgender student-athletes fair, respectful and legal access to collegiate sports teams based on current medical and legal knowledge, the NCAA specifically states the exceptions to banned substance use.
A male, transgender student-athlete who is not taking testosterone related to gender transition may participate on a men’s or women’s team. A female, transgender student-athlete who is not taking hormone treatments related to gender transition may not compete on a women’s team. A male, transgender student-athlete who has received a medical exception for treatment with testosterone for diagnosed Gender Identity Disorder or gender dysphoria and/or Transsexualism may compete on a men’s team, but is no longer eligible to compete on a women’s team without changing the team status to a mixed team. A mixed team is only eligible to compete for men’s championships. A female, transgender student-athlete being treated with testosterone suppression medication for Gender Identity Disorder or gender dysphoria and/or Transsexualism may continue to compete on a men’s team, but may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one calendar year of documented testosterone-suppression treatment. In comparison, if a cisgender woman participates on a men’s team, the team is still able to compete for the men’s NCAA championship.
Although the NCAA uses the DSM-5 depiction of transgender as a ‘disorder,’ they have taken strides to remain an inclusive organization. The NCAA has come far from the past of offering only men’s sports to today’s attempts at protecting the rights and participation of transgender student-athletes. However, this does not make the NCAA perfect, and their labeling of transgender as a disorder reinforces the binary gender model of our society and pathologizes gender variance.