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NCAA mocks female athletes with trans policies

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As a senior in college where I just completed my final season as an NCAA athlete, my unique experiences culminated last week in a face-to-face interaction with the chair of the NCAA Board of Governors, Linda Livingstone. With this encounter, the brutal reality hit me: the biggest, most powerful collegiate sports organization in the world has no time or place for the female athletes they govern.

For the past four years, on top of all the other responsibilities of being a collegiate volleyball player, I’ve engaged in the fight for fair play. I’ve testified before state legislatures, spoken to Members of Congress, and made my case to the NCAA alongside other female athletes and Young Women for America, asking for one thing: they keep girls’ sports for girls only. After experiencing the humiliation of playing against a male masquerading as a female athlete several years ago, I’ve witnessed the snowball effect of more men following suit and stealing female opportunities.

Despite this, the NCAA has entered 2024 pressing on towards female discrimination handing a biological man a women’s national championship and accepting his nomination for NCAA Woman of the Year. 

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Yet, NCAA officials have denied us at Concerned Women for America and other partnering organizations several opportunities to discuss our firsthand experiences facing discrimination, including requesting a meeting with the new NCAA president Charlie Baker and Baylor University President Dr. Linda Livingstone.

With the NCAA’s unwillingness to answer publicly to their policies on “transgender” athletes, our coalition gathered at the NCAA annual meeting in Phoenix where its Board members, university athletic staff, and athletes convene. This is our opportunity to engage in educational sessions, celebrate the achievements of the athletes, and participate in fruitful conversations with our peers.

Even though the concern about the invasion of women’s sports by biological males has been felt nationwide, the NCAA has not included this discussion in this meeting’s agenda. While this surprised other guests, I expected as much. I’ve been trying to have this conversation for a while, but the NCAA has always shut the door.

As a current athlete, I put on my “delegate” badge and entered the convention center this time with a strategy. I brought a letter signed by our coalition of current and former NCAA athletes and coaches, Olympians, and women’s organizations that clearly explained our concerns over their policies and asked the NCAA to repeal all policies and rules that allow biological male athletes to take roster spots on women’s teams and/or compete in women’s events,

My hope was to deliver this letter to Mr. Baker or Dr. Livingstone.                                     

I patiently waited for an opportunity and a respectful way to deliver this message. When I saw Dr. Livingstone, I simply said I’d appreciate her consideration of female athletes and look forward to her response.

In this moment, she finally had to come face-to-face with one of the female athletes she was unwilling to protect and she couldn’t. She refused to even afford me the decency of eye contact. This organization has been attacking our dignity as women for years, but I’ve never felt it so personally until now.

A few hours later, Baylor made a statement to The Daily Signal about the letter. Unfortunately, the Christian school did not take the opportunity to answer the concerns expressed by the athletes but rather told a story of a female athlete “ambushing” their president.

What? I am a delegate with NCAA credentials. I have been an athlete in this organization for four grueling years. I intended to pass along the letter, which I did by placing it in her hand and thanking her.

Worst of all, they claimed in the statement, “There is a time and place to have meaningful discussions about important topics of this nature.”

When is that place and time? Dr. Livingstone has declined to meet about this issue for years. As a woman and a former athlete herself, her decision to shut out female athletes is inexplicable.

If the NCAA meeting wasn’t the “time and place” then the time and place must not exist.

The policies allowing men in women’s spaces are bad enough and discriminatory on their face, but on top of that, the NCAA cowers behind closed doors and refuses to acknowledge that our concerns even exist. They continue to put the burden of their actions on us and won’t even give us the decency of a dialogue.

It goes without saying, but I’d be more than happy to meet at Dr. Livingstone’s preferred time and place. I truly hope she respects the work of female athletes enough to hear our concerns. But until now, her actions have proved otherwise.

The NCAA can continue to mock us by claiming to champion “female” athletics, but the nation sees the truth. If the NCAA truly cared about female athletes, they would put the necessary protections in place to ensure we have a place on the court free from male intrusion.

Macy Petty is an NCAA athlete and a leader of Young Women for America, the collegiate program of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.

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