College Players Condemn Transgender Sports Bans

Written by SK Ashby

A group of over 500 College sports players have signed and addressed a letter to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) demanding that the association withdraw championships and events from states that have passed or are considering legislation that bans transgender kids and young adults from participating in sports programs.

Because most states are considering legislation that specifically targets women and girls for scrutiny, the letter states that female athletes cannot "feel safe" if they could be singled out just because of their appearance.

“We, the undersigned NCAA student-athletes, are extremely frustrated and disappointed by the lack of action taken by the NCAA to recognize the dangers of hosting events in states that create a hostile environment for student-athletes,” the letter opened. Addressing NCAA President Mark Emmert and the NCAA Board of Governors, it continued, “You have been silent in the face of hateful legislation in states that are slated to host championships, even though those states are close to passing anti-transgender legislation.”

The letter was shepherded by runners from Washington University in St. Louis, junior Aliya Schenck and senior Alana Bojar, along with GLAAD and Athlete Ally, national LGBTQ advocacy organizations. It was signed by athletes from at least 85 schools, including the likes of Duke, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Villanova and Maryland. The signees run the gamut from programs including football, men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, cross-country, gymnastics, rowing and beyond.

As you may recall, pressure from the NCAA including a refusal to hold events in the state contributed to the defeat of legislation in North Carolina that would have banned transgender people from using the appropriate bathroom in 2017.

Legislation that specifically targets athletes should be a priority for the NCAA but, as this letter states, the association has "been silent." This is far more narrow and specific than the blanket bathroom ban that prompted action from the NCAA four years ago.

I expect the NCAA will act at some point, but support from other players is what transgender kids and young adults need to see. They need to know their peers do not have a problem with them even if their representatives in government do. Players who are willing to protect each other have more power than the institutions above them and they can put a stop to this.

A group of 20 Republican-controlled state legislatures have either passed or are currently considering bans on transgender players.