Hundreds of athletes urge the NCAA to not ban transgender athletes from women’s college sports

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Over 400 former and current collegiate, professional and Olympic athletes urged the NCAA to not ban transgender athletes from women’s college sports, according to a letter sent out on Tuesday. 

“We implore you, the NCAA’s highest governing body and members of an organization focused on supporting the wellbeing of not just athletes but sport itself, to focus on the long-documented needs of NCAA athletes of all genders,” the letter said. “We implore you to focus efforts on developing policies driven by research, education, collaboration, and policy to promote a healthy and safe environment for all athletes, NOT discriminatory attempts to sideline an entire group of athletes from the sports they love.” 

The letter was signed by former NFL defensive end R.K. Russell, former Minnesota Vikings’ fullback Johnny Stanton, former WNBA basketball star Sue Bird and U.S. Women’s National Team soccer co-captain Megan Rapinoe.

In response, the NCAA said that “college sports are the premier stage for women’s sports in America and the NCAA will continue to promote Title IX, make unprecedented investments in women’s sports and ensure fair competition for all student-athletes in all NCAA championships, according to NBC News. 

NCAA issued new guidelines in 2022 about transgender women’s participation in NCAA sports. The updated requirements feature three phases. With the new rules, the cases are referred to the “national governing body” while maintaining that transgender women have to have at least one year of testosterone suppression treatment. 

The debate over transgender women’s participation in sports has been a hot-button issue. 

The majority of Americans, 69 percent, said that transgender athletes should only participate in teams that correspond with their birth gender, according to a Gallup poll from June last year. 

Independents, Democrats and Republicans, are “modestly less” supportive of transgender athletes competing on teams corresponding with their current gender than two years ago, Gallup noted. 

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the body encompassing around 250 member schools, approved a policy this month that would ban transgender athletes from playing in women’s sports. 

“As athletes, we know firsthand that sport has the power to change lives,” athletes said in a letter on Tuesday. “Allowing transgender athletes within the NCAA to participate in the sports they love as who they truly are alongside their teammates fulfills the true spirit of Olympism we all ascribe to.”

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