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The debate over transgender athletes in sports reaches schools and colleges across the country

More than a dozen athletes and former athletes sued the NCAA for its policy allowing transgender athletes to participate in certain sports.
Posted at 12:38 PM, Jun 10, 2024

It's a battle taking place in the stands and at the local statehouse: the debate over transgender athletes in sports.

Those in favor point to decades of advocacy for protecting equal rights.

Those opposed say it gives transgender women athletes a physical advantage and takes away from the celebration of feminism.

According to data from the Movement Advancement Project, a progressive think tank, at least 20 states currently ban transgender students from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.

While the legal lines are being drawn at the local level, there's a focus on college sports, too.

In April, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, made up of mostly smaller schools across the country, voted to largely ban trans women from competing in women's sports.

Now all eyes are on the NCAA, as earlier this year more than a dozen athletes and former athletes sued the NCAA for its policy allowing transgender athletes to participate in certain sports.

Meanwhile, hundreds of civil rights groups and elite athletes have called for the group to provide extra protections for transgender athletes.

Three-time NCAA champion basketball coach Dawn Staley also joined the discussion, telling reporters, "If you consider yourself a woman and you want to play sports, or vice versa, you should be able to play."

On the other side, men's Olympic gold medalist and Fox News contributor Caitlyn Jenner, who came out as transgender in 2015, has been speaking against transgender women athletes in women's sports for years.

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"If Michael Jordan in his prime all of a sudden decides 'I'm trans,' one year on hormone replacement therapy and he can play in the WNBA — how do you think that would work out?" Jenner said during an interview with Fox News.

The division goes beyond athletes, but inside party affiliations, too.

A 2024 Siena College poll of New York voters shows 66% support requiring high school athletes to only compete with others of the same sex they were assigned at birth. That includes 52% of Democrats.

Nationwide, in a 2023 poll from Gallup 69% of respondents said transgender athletes should only be allowed to play on sports teams that match their birth sex.

Still, the Biden administration is signaling their support of transgender youth. In 2024, the Education Department announced a change to Title IX, the legislation that aimed to protect students at federally funded schools from sex-based discrimination,expanding the language to include gender identity.

Some conservatives call the transgender athlete debate the silent campaign issue to watch, one former president Donald Trump will likely seize.

"He would not have probably done that in 2016. It wasn't a real abiding concern during the first Trump presidency for his first four years. Things have changed radically now," Jay Richards, director of the Devos Center for Life, Religion, and Family at the Heritage Foundation told Scripps News.

Trump recently stated he'd reverse Biden administration changes to Title IX on his first day in office.