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Harriet Antczak, a 2010 graduate of Columbia Law School currently working at Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., shares her thoughts on recent coverage of transgender athletes in collegiate sports:

The lyrics to country star Kenny Chesney’s latest hit, “The Boys of Fall,” sum it up well: “They didn’t let just anybody in that club/ Took every ounce of heart and sweat and blood/ To get to wear those game day jerseys down the hall/ Kings of the school man, we’re the boys of fall. . . .”  That boys club certainly is exclusive, and does not shut out only those who did not perform well in the pre-season.

Last week the National Women’s Law Center filed complaints with the federal education department against 12 school districts across the country, alleging failure to provide girls with equal opportunities to play sports in violation of Title IX – federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in federally funded education programs.  Clearly the battle continues for female athletes to have the same opportunities as their male counterparts.  But while schools reexamine their commitment to equality and inclusion for female student athletes, they should also be giving long overdue attention to the problems of unequal access faced by transgender students.  These athletes have the same right to the opportunity to participate and compete in sports as all others.

At least one comprehensive effort encouraging high schools and colleges to address the needs of transgender athletes is underway:  Last month the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and It Takes a Team!, an initiative of the Women’s Sports Foundation, released a think tank report entitled On the Team: Equal Opportunity for Transgender Student Athletes.  Authored by Dr. Pat Griffin, former director of It Takes a Team! Education Campaign, and Helen J. Carroll, director of NCLR’s Sports Project and former National Championship Basketball Coach of University of North Carolina-Asheville, the report provides a detailed look at the challenges faced by transgender student athletes.  Offering model policies and best practices recommendations for schools and colleges, it emphasizes that not only does inclusion of transgender athletes promote a better overall educational environment, but the failure to do so sends a message to all athletes that winning is more important that non-discrimination.

The bottom line is that school athletics are an integral part of the educational experience and no student should be denied the opportunity to participate and compete because of who they are.  Resources such as this report, coupled with greater media awareness regarding transgender athletes – such as the recent news coverage of the first openly transgender athlete to compete in Division I basketball, Kye Allums, are hopeful starting points to help ensure that school and college athletics will provide positive experiences to all students.

4 comments

  1. New Blog Post: Off the Bench and On the Team: Equal Opportunities for Transgender Student Athletes http://wp.me/ploC4-LX

  2. Hello just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same outcome.

  3. Hiya, I’m really glad I have found this info. Nowadays bloggers publish only about gossip and web stuff and this is actually annoying. A good site with exciting content, that is what I need. Thanks for making this web-site, and I will be visiting again.

  4. No way, Male-Transgender athletes have an unfair advantage over their female counter parts. You may be able to change the physical appearance but muscle mass and bone density remain the same. Men have more muscle mass and more dense bones. Their advantages clear. Besides why would a man want to become a woman. Be more emotional, act like you got menstrual cycles. Real women don’t even want that.

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