NCAA criticized for changing policy towards transgender athletes; The ruling comes amid a spotlight on swimmer Lia Thomas

Transgender athlete and advocate Chris Mosier criticized the NCAA’s new policy on the involvement of transgender athletes in an interview with ABC News on Thursday.

“This is absolutely a missed opportunity for the NCAA,” he said. “The NCAA has been using a policy for over 10 years now and it’s working pretty well.”

He added, “It really looks like they’ve made the decision to react with the knee to what’s happening in the NCAA right now with a single athlete involved.”

The NCAA updated its policy on the participation of transgender athletes this week, letting the national governing body for each sport determine eligibility requirements.

The organization said in a statement the policy change is in line with recent changes by the US Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee. If a sport’s national governing body does not have a policy, the NCAA will apply the rules of the sport’s international federation or IOC policy.

“We are steadfast in supporting transgender student-athletes and promoting equity in college sports,” said John DeGioia, NCAA Board of Governors and Georgetown University President. “. “It is vital that NCAA member schools, conventions, and college athletes compete in an environment that is inclusive, fair, safe, and respectful and able to move forward with a clear understanding clear about the new policy.”

The new policy goes into effect immediately and will begin with the 2022 winter championship.

Mosier, however, says he sees challenges with implementing the rule.

“It will be difficult for both the NCAA in governing compliance with these rules, as well as for athletes and coaches, to figure out what they need to do to comply with these rules,” he said. “I’m really worried about the young transgender and non-pure people seeing this policy, who are wondering if they can be who they really are and continue playing the sports they love. like it or not.”

The debate surrounding transgender athletes’ participation in college sports has come to the fore after transgender swimmer Lia Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania broke several records in swimming. women’s wading.

Thomas realized she was transgender in 2018, she said in an interview on the “SwimSwam” podcast in December. Not sure if she could continue swimming, she delayed getting out and competing for University of Pennsylvania men’s team for the 2018-2019 season.

Thomas said on the podcast that the experience “made me so miserable.”

“I worked really hard, my mental health wasn’t very good,” she added. “It’s so unsettling, I basically just feel trapped in my body. It’s out of alignment.”

Thomas started transgender in 2019. She completed a year of hormone therapy, which is what the NCAA requires for transgender women to compete on women’s teams. After the 2020-2021 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she joined Penn’s women’s team for the 2021-2022 season.

After the NCAA announced its rule change, Penn Athletics released a statement Thursday saying it would support Thomas.

It said: “Penn Athletics became aware of the NCAA’s new transgender participation policy. “To support our student-athlete, Lia Thomas, we will be working with the NCAA on her participation on the newly adopted standards for the 2022 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.”

In a statement, the American College of Swimming & Diving Instructors Association said it supported Thomas but denounced the policy change.

“Yesterday’s decision by the Board of Governors is not a solution,” it said, according to the statement posted on Instagram on Thursday. “The NCAA’s previous policy on transgender engagement, while pioneering, is outdated and yesterday’s decision was a missed opportunity to lead this important discussion.”

The organization has called on the NCAA to add one more qualifying slot to this year’s championship.

Before the NCAA announced the policy change, a number of prominent athletes had criticized Thomas’s involvement in women’s sports, including former Olympic athlete Caitlyn Jenner, who appeared as an athlete. transgender in 2015.

“First, biological boys – I said at the beginning – shouldn’t be playing women’s sports,” she said in an interview with Fox News. “We need to protect women’s sports.”

While Jenner said she respects Thomas’ decision to “live her life authentically,” she added later that “her respiratory system is bigger. Her hands are bigger. . She can swim faster. That’s known. All this waking world that we live in right now is inactive.”

Five-time Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps also discussed Thomas in a recent interview with CNN.

“We should all be comfortable with who we are in our own skin, but I think sport should be played on an even playing field,” he said in the interview. “I don’t know what that will look like in the future but it’s hard.”

According to Axios, Thomas qualified for the NCAA swimming championships in March.

Kaylee Hartung and Sean Sanders of ABC News contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 ABC News Internet Ventures. NCAA criticized for changing policy towards transgender athletes; The ruling comes amid a spotlight on swimmer Lia Thomas

Dais Johnston

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