Controversy Erupts as NAIA Bans Transgender Athletes from Women’s Sports, Citing Religious Influence

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The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), an organization that supervises over 83,000 students at mostly smaller colleges and Universities, has banned transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports. The policy states that only female student-athletes assigned the female gender at birth will be allowed to compete on NAIA-sponsored teams.

Under the new policy, biological women who identify themselves as transgender men can compete on women’s teams if they have not used masculinizing hormone therapy. However, they will be prohibited from participating in NAIA women’s competition, but may still take part in team activities, practices, and workouts. According to the NAIA, the college has the discretion of whether the student is allowed to participate or not.

New rules for student-athletes will take effect on August 1st.

Jim Carr, NAIA’s President and CEO, stated that the policy was in the best interest of the schools that are members of the association. He acknowledged that the policy would be controversial.

Carr spoke with The Associated Press.

We understand that people have many different opinions and are very emotional about this. We respect everyone’s opinion, but we feel our first duty is to ensure the competition is fair. We will continue to follow this course.

Carr acknowledged that religious beliefs could have been a factor, saying

When they address these issues, I believe they are also thinking about their own opinions and the missions of their institutions. This would seem to have some influence.

This week, the Catholic Church released official teachings on transgender issues.

A report from Vatican City stated that the Vatican had published a 24-page document called Dignitas Infinita. This document, which is Latin for “Infinite Dignity,” classified transgender surgeries, gender theories, and surrogacy as acts of affront to human dignity. The document classifies gender theory, transgender surgery, and surrogacy as an affront against human dignity.

Riley Gaines wrote a blog on Monday to celebrate the NAIA decision.

The NAIA, in a vote of 25 to 0, became the first college national governing board that required athletes to compete according to gender.

“We believed our first responsibility was to create fairness and competition in the NAIA…We also think it aligns with the reasons Title IX was created.”

Gaines also tweeted the NCAA, saying, “Take note.”