This week the N.C. High School Athletic Association Board of Directors approved a new policy that will not restrict transgender high school athletes to competing as the gender stated on their birth certificate.
“The NCHSAA allows participation in interscholastic athletics for all students, regardless of gender or gender identification,” the policy states. “It is the intent that all students are able to compete on a level playing field in a safe, competitive and friendly environment, free of discrimination.”
The policy goes on to set up a method for a student to change the gender under which they will compete and a method for vetting applications to do so, to be sure the student is actually transitioning or living socially as the gender under which they will compete.
“The Request should be based on the gender identification of that student in current school records and daily life activities in the school and community.”
After submitting a Gender Identity Request Form, the student and their family will need to provide some supporting documentation. This will include verification of gender identity from a medical professional (which may include physicians, psychologists, psychiatrist or a school nurse), a list of medications and interventions related to gender identity and documentation from people – including family and friends – who can attest to the student’s gender identity.
The NCHSAA Gender Identity Committee will then consider the student’s request, approving it if the committee “finds that the student genuinely identifies as the gender indicated in the request.”
Questions of gender identity in sports has been increasingly prominent in the last decade.
The same day that the NCHSAA made its policy change, the highest court in international sports determined female athletes with naturally elevated levels of testosterone will not be able to compete in competitions like the Olympics without lowering their hormone levels. The decision was a blow for Caster Semenya, a two-time Olympic champion runner from South Africa who has been the face of the issue.