() Nine U.S. governors are asking the National Collegiate Athletics Association to rewrite its policy on transgender participation in sports, saying it is unfair to female athletes.
The NCAA updated a 2010 policy last year that requires transgender females to show they have undergone a year of testosterone suppression treatment. Testosterone levels are also checked before competitions.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and eight other governors cited University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines as an example of why the policy is unfair.
Gaines tied with transgender athlete Lia Thomas for the top trophy at the NCAA Division I national championship in 2022. The NCAA gave Thomas the first-place trophy.
“The decade of hard work and the countless hours spent in the pool were suddenly wasted,” the governors said in a letter to the NCAA. “Riley’s lifetime of achievement was ripped away from her by someone who shouldn’t have even been in the race—all for a photo op.”
NCAA has an opportunity to “create a fair environment for women’s sports,” the governors said..
“But if you continue the NCAA’s misguided policies, stories like Riley Gaines’ will only become more common,” they added. “Policies that allow men and women to compete against one another validate an average male athlete stealing the recognition from a truly remarkable female athlete.”
Noem spearheaded a bill during the 2022 legislative session that requires South Dakota students to compete in sports based on their sex at birth. Twenty-two other states passed similar laws, according to ESPN.
The governors said they intervened because the federal government has not.
“As governors of our states, it is our responsibility to care for our constituents, and we are doing all we can to protect the fairness of athletics in our states,” the governors said in the letter. “Now, it is time for the NCAA to do the same and make the best decision for all of your athletes.”
The governors also quoted a study that said biological males have an advantage over females.
“Science proves that it is fundamentally unfair for a biological male to compete against a biological female—that does not change when someone declares themselves as being of a different gender,” they said.
“The National Institutes for Health found that there is on average a 10% difference between the top performing males and females in athletic competition,” they continued. “In high-level athletic competition, a 10% difference is massive—and can even be insurmountable.”
A majority of respondents to a poll by the Center Square said they oppose biological males competing in female sports. Fifty-two percent of the 2,500 questioned said they strongly opposed, while 15% said they somewhat supported the issue.