- Katie Barnes is a writer/reporter for espnW. Follow them on Twitter at Katie_Barnes3.
Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve and forward Napheesa Collier have joined current and former NCAA athletes and LGBTQ advocates to call on the NCAA to take action in response to legislative measures restricting access to athletics for transgender athletes being considered and enacted across the country.
Fifty-six legislative measures have been filed in more than 30 states during the 2021 legislative session, according to Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign. Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi have signed their respective measures into law. The motivation for these bills, according to lawmakers, is said to be the protection of women’s sports.
“What’s really harming women’s sports is an overall lack of investment, whether in resources for female athletes, opportunities to coach, [or] lack of pay,” Reeve said. “The notion that the motivation for transgender athletes is to gain scholarships or competitive advantage is a false narrative. Trans inclusion makes our sports, our teams, and our communities stronger.”
“I consider transgender women my teammates, not a threat,” Collier added. “The NCAA has to take action and withdraw all athletic competition from states considering harmful anti-transgender sports bills.”
The NCAA removed its championship events from North Carolina in 2016 following the passage of HB 2, a law that required all people to use bathrooms in accordance with their sex assigned at birth. In addition to the NCAA removing its championship events, the ACC relocated its football championship from Charlotte, and the NBA moved its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans.
In March, 550 student athletes wrote to the NCAA to denounce the bills being filed. The letter implored the NCAA to take action, saying: “The NCAA must speak out against bills that directly affect their student athlete population if they want to uphold their self-professed ideals of keeping college sports safe and promoting the excellence of physical and mental well-being for student athletes.”
Current NCAA guidelines — enacted in 2011 — stipulate that transgender men may compete in the women’s category as long as they have not yet begun hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and must compete in the men’s category after beginning HRT. Transgender women may compete in the women’s category after undergoing HRT for one year. In championship events, these guidelines must be upheld for all athletes.
The NCAA Board of Governors is meeting on April 9, and the legislation being filed across the country concerning transgender athletes as well as voting rights is on the publicly available agenda.
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