NAIA Bans Biological Males from Women’s Sports

NAIA logo | Image by NAIA

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has banned biological males from competing in women’s athletics.

The organization passed the new policy on Monday after a 20-0 vote from its Council of Presidents, becoming the first known college sports organization to officially institute a ban.

“We know there are a lot of opinions, and a lot of people have a very emotional reaction to this, and we want to be respectful of all that,” NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr told the Associated Press. “But we feel like our primary responsibility is fairness in competition, so we are following that path. And we’ve tried as best we could to allow for some participation by all.”

Under the new NAIA policy, all student-athletes can participate in male sports, but only biological females can play for the women’s teams.

The NCAA has not banned biological males from competing against biological females, instead opting for a policy that involved testosterone suppression treatment and testosterone testing in 2010 and amended its policy to align with national sport organizations, like the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), in 2022.

The NCAA also released an official response following the NAIA’s decision.

“College sports are the premier stage for women’s sports in America and the NCAA will continue to promote Title IX, make unprecedented investments in women’s sports and ensure fair competition for all student-athletes in all NCAA championships.,” the NCAA’s statement read.

The NCAA is also facing a lawsuit alleging it “violated the rights” of current and former athletes by allowing biological males to compete in women’s competitions.

“It’s similar to the NIL stuff with all these different state laws,” Kasey Havekost, a former Division I athlete who is now a higher education attorney at Bricker Graydon, told ESPN. “The NCAA kind of does something, but nothing really happens, and they look to the federal government, and the federal government is slow to put something in place and then we’re left with all these different state laws. … I feel like at some point, it will have to be addressed. It’s a really complex issue. It might take a Supreme Court ruling.”

While the advantages in competition have caused many to call for further intervention by the organizations involved, the NAIA’s ruling has drawn criticism from the National Women’s Law Center.

“This is unacceptable and blatant discrimination that not only harms trans, nonbinary and intersex individuals but limits the potential of all athletes,” a statement from the National Women’s Law Center’s Shiwali Patel read. “It’s important to recognize that these discriminatory policies don’t enhance fairness in competition. Instead, they send a message of exclusion and reinforce dangerous stereotypes that harm all women.”

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