(San Francisco, CA, September 12, 2011)—The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) last week announced that it has approved an important policy that clarifies opportunities for transgender student athletes to participate on college athletic teams in accordance with their gender identity.

The NCAA—which governs sports for more than 1,200 colleges and institutions—worked closely with the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Sports Project and Griffin Educational Consulting to develop the policy, which according to the announcement “will allow a transgender student athlete to participate in sex-separated sports activities so long as the athlete’s use of hormone therapy is consistent with the NCAA policies and current medical standards.”

“I commend the NCAA’s commitment to creating and supporting an inclusive culture that fosters equitable participation for student athletes,” said NCLR Sports Project Director Helen Carroll. “That core value is strengthened as the NCAA unveils this new policy that will not only allow, but encourage transgender student athletes to participate on athletic teams. This is truly historic, and it will give transgender student athletes equal access and opportunities to play college-level sports without any obstacles.”

Under the policy:

•A transgender male student athlete who has a medical exception for testosterone hormone therapy 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 transgender female student athlete who has taken medication to suppress testosterone for a year may compete on a women’s team.

Under the new policy, transgender student athletes who are not undergoing hormone therapy remain eligible to play on teams based on the gender of their birth sex and may socially transition by dressing and using the appropriate pronouns that match their gender identity.

In October 2009, NCLR and It Takes A Team!, An Initiative of the Women’s Sports Foundation, invited experts on transgender issues from a range of disciplines—law, medicine, advocacy, and athletics—to take part in a national think tank on equal opportunity for transgender student athletes. NCAA leaders were part of the think tank that was charged with identifying best practices and developing model policies for high school and collegiate athletic programs to ensure the full inclusion of transgender student athletes.

NCLR’s Carroll and Dr. Pat Griffin, former director of It Takes a Team!, compiled the thank tank information into a report titled “On the Team: Equal Opportunity for Transgender Student Athletes.” The report—released in October 2010—provides a comprehensive guide to the integration of transgender student athletes in high school and collegiate athletic programs, and was utilized by the NCAA to draft its policy.

The new policy takes effect immediately. The NCAA has and will continue to provide resources to its members about gender identity and its role in intercollegiate athletics, as well as educational material about the inclusion of transgender student athletes and best practices.

“We applaud the NCAA for leading the way on this issue and developing a policy based on science, fairness, and the principles of inclusion and equality,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. “Thanks to this policy, more transgender students will enjoy the lifelong benefits of participating in sports, and transgender children will have more positive role models for leading healthy and active lives.”

For more information about the NCAA’s policy, contact NCAA Director of Gender Inclusion Karen Morrison at KMorrison@NCAA.org.

Download your copy of “On the Team: Equal Opportunity for Transgender Student Athletes .”

Read more about the NCAA’s LGBTQ resources.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.