Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Washington State Adopts Policy on Transgender High School Athletes

Stepping in where no interscholastic or intercollegiate sport governing body has yet to tread, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) has developed the first in the nation policy governing the participation of transgender athletes in high school sports. Kudos to the WIAA and the many consulting organizations who worked on this ground-breaking policy. We plan to post the policy on the It Takes A Team! web site as soon as we get all the bugs out of our new web site format (I debated with myself and decided to go ahead and blog about this even though I know it might be frustrating to not actually see the policy). You can check out the It Takes A Team! resource on including transgender athletes in the meantime.

Though the International Olympic Committee, in 2003, adopted the first ever policy establishing criteria for transsexual athletes to participate in the Olympics, the policy has been widely criticized by athletes like Canadian Olympic hopeful, Kristen Worley and professional golfer Mianne Bagger as well as others in the transgender rights movement.

The IOC policy, known as the Stockholm Consensus, is focused primarily on male to female transitions and focuses on completing a surgical transition as a criterion for participation. Even so, the United State Golf Association and USA Track & Field have adopted the IOC policy . The Gay Games Federation and the Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association (GLISA) have also adopted policies enabling transgender/transitioned athletes to compete in the Gay Games and the OutGames.

The NCAA, unfortunately, has stuck to their position that athletes must compete in the gender indicated on their official documents: Driver’s license, birth certificate, or passport). This policy has many problems and is one lawsuit away from disaster in my opinion. It’s disappointing that the NCAA appears to be taking a reactive rather a proactive stance on this issue.

Because interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics have eligibility limits, unlike Olympic or professional athletes, school policy governing the participation of transgender athletes needs to be different. Plus, the short-comings of the IOC policy in general call out for a more thoughtful and practical second try at policy development, especially one that applies to high school and college athletics.
Enter the WIAA. It is notable and impressive that this state association has taken on the task of developing a policy that will serve as a model for, not only other state high school athletic associations, but for collegiate athletics as well.

The WIAA worked with several groups and individuals over several months to develop and revise this policy including the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Washington State Human Rights Commission, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Advocates for Informed Choice and the Colorado High School Activities Association.

The collaborative process of developing the policy and the actual policy itself are models for other interscholastic and intercollegiate athletic associations to follow. Thank you, Washington State, for your leadership in addressing this emergent social justice issue in sport.

What policy does your school have governing the participation of transgender/transitioned athletes?


Anonymous said...

That they are proactive enough to realize that something is needed is extremely encouraging.

Unlike Irmo, South Carolina, where a school board is considering outlawing ANY student organizations not directly related to school or school sports matters--a knee-jerk reaction to the formation of a Gay/Straight Alliance group that was formed there. The principal has announced his resignation over the issue (he is against the Gay Straight Alliance, because he is a "Christian" and thinks the group "promotes" sex)and it gets messier every day.
Ignorance just gets so OLD.

Anonymous said...

This is very encouraging! Hopefully this will encourage local school systems to be proactive about addressing transgender policy. Proactive policies help the transgender population get included. When schools and institutions are only reactive, it is easy for minorities to get villanized for creating neccessary but expensive litigations. Like Title IX, institutions who address the problem before they reach the courtroom are not only doing the right thing, but saving themselves a considerable amount of money.

-jess ream

Anonymous said...

Don't you think though that it's a bit problematic that the WIAA has made full SRS required in order to participate? How many 15 or 16 year olds are going to have undergone full SRS two years prior to seeking athletic eligibility. While it's commendable that the WIAA took a stand, it's the wrong one.

negocios rentables said...

hello, i would like to read more about this interesting topic beacuase it is really interesting.