NAIA Becomes First College Organization To Ban Transgender Athletes From Women’s Sports

NAIA believed to be first national college governing body to mandate athletes compete according to assigned sex at birth

CBS Sports

(CBS Sports)Athletes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) will only be allowed to compete in women’s sports if they were assigned the female gender at birth, the national small-college organization announced Monday.

The NAIA’s Council of Presidents approved the policy in a 20-0 vote Monday morning after a December survey indicated widespread support for the move. The association’s previous policy only applied to postseason competition. The new directive applies to all NAIA competitions.


The NAIA is a national athletic governing body for 249 mostly small colleges across the country that are not part of the NCAA’s three divisions of competition. The membership is 80% private schools. This decision does not apply to NCAA competitions.

“We know there are a lot of different opinions out there,” NAIA president Jim Carr told CBS Sports. “For us, we believed our first responsibility was to create fairness and competition in the NAIA. … We also think it aligns with the reasons Title IX was created. You’re allowed to have separate but equal opportunities for women to compete.”

The NAIA is believed to be the first national college governing body to mandate that athletes compete according to assigned sex at birth.

According to Pew Research Center, 1.6% of U.S. adults are transgender or nonbinary. The NAIA has no knowledge of transgender athletes competing in its postseasons to this point, Carr said.

According to the NAIA’s new policy (which is included in full below), in addition to ruling out athletes that were assigned male at birth, the policy blocks those who were assigned female but have begun masculinizing hormone therapy to transition to women.

All NAIA athletes who are no longer eligible for women’s competition could still participate in men’s sports, Carr said.

“It’s important to know that the male sports are open to anyone,” he added.

The policy doesn’t apply to team activities like practices, exhibition games and scrimmages.

The move comes at a time when transgender rights are a hot topic nationally. In 2022, Penn’s Lia Thomas became the only openly transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I championship.

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