Transgender athetes face different sets of rules

Em Maier | April 5, 2012    

A transgender student at Pitt can play on the sports team of the gender they identify with —… A transgender student at Pitt can play on the sports team of the gender they identify with — they just can’t use the same locker room.

The University has two different standards for determining who can play with whom, and who can use what facilities. To use a gendered facility, a transgender student must change the sex listed on their birth certificate, but to play on a sports team, they only need to complete one year of hormone therapy, due to NCAA rules.

The NCAA has a mandated policy regarding who can play on what teams, but the organization only has a set of guidelines — which are not mandated — for facilities use.

Pitt complies with the rules, but not the guidelines.

Pitt’s Athletic policy

In March, Pitt announced that students have to use public gendered facilities, such as bathrooms, that align with the sex listed on their birth certificates, regardless of their personal gender identification.

Pitt’s Department of Athletics declinrefused to comment on the conflicting policies of team participation and facility use, referring all questions to Pitt spokesperson Robert Hill.

Hill said that the University’s standard of requiring students to use public restrooms and locker rooms that match the gender of their birth certificates also applies to student athletes’ use of these rooms.

“As this [policy] applies to use of facilities, a female who identifies as a male, or a male who identifies as a female, may use restrooms or locker rooms of his or her declared gender identity after he or she has obtained a birth certificate designating the declared gender. This practice applies to student athletes as well,” Hill said in an email.

Hill said that this policy only applies to locker rooms and bathrooms, so a transgender student could play on the team they identify with, just not use the same locker room.

Pitt’s Department of Athletics allows students to play on a Pitt athletic team for the gender they identify with — no birth certificate change needed. This complies with the NCAA policy that requires hormonal treatment but not a change of birth certificate.

This could lead to a situation in which a student would play on a team as they desired, but as soon as leaving the field of play, would have to go into a different area to shower and change.

NCAA policy

In September 2011, the NCAA created the Inclusion of Transgender Student-Athletes policy to foster diversity and equitable opportunities for all students. The Association changed its rules to allow transgender students to play on the team associated with thefor the gender that they identify with. The policy only requires hormonal treatment in certain contexts and does not call for a change of sex on a birth certificate.

But the policy has different rules depending on whether the individual is male or female.

A transgender male, (female-to-male), student-athlete who has received a medical exception for treatment with testosterone may compete on a men’s team, but is no longer eligible to compete on a women’s team.

However, the policy states that a transgender female, (male-to-female), athlete may continue to compete on a men’s team and is banned from competition on a women’s team until one year’s treatment of testosterone suppression.

“[The] policy applies to participation throughout the year.  The specific criteria related to hormonal treatment require NCAA review  of medical documentation and monitoring for continued participation. The criteria related to mixed teams must be applied in the regular season and have implications for championship participation,” the NCAA said.

Yet those rules only apply to students receiving hormonal treatment. — Ffor individuals not receiving hormones, the rules vary based on gender.

A transgender male can participate on either the men’s or women’s team, whereas a transgender female is barred from competing on the women’s team.

The NCAA also has a set of guidelines, which are not mandated, which state that transgender student athletes should use the locker room and bathroom facilities for the student’s gender identity, unless they request separate facilities.

While not mandated, the NCAA issued guidelines to assist colleges “in creating an environment in which all student-athletes are safe and fairly treated.”

These guidelines state that transgender student athletes “should be able to use the locker room, shower, and toilet facilities in accordance with the student’s gender identity.”

However, if a transgender student -athlete requests a private, separate changing and showering facility, the school should provide one.

“… but transgender students should not be required to use separate facilities,” the guidelines state.

SGB Board member Julie Hallinan, who has advocated for changing the bathroom policy since the University clarified it on March 21, said Pitt’s Athletic Department’s policy is confusing when compared to the NCAA guidelines.

“I think that the Athletic Department’s [policy] really speaks to the clutter and confusion that the University administration has to the status of transgender students,” Hallinan said.

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