“The Times They Are A-Changin,’” the title of Bob Dylan’s third studio album that was released by Columbia Records in Jan., 1964, captures the essence of the NCAA rule changes that deal with transgender athletes.
In an attempt to align its policies regarding transgender athletes with the rules of international competition standards, the NCAA changed its rules on Jan. 20, to defer to each sport’s national and/or international governing bodies.
Mia Thomas, a University of Pennsylvania swimmer who participated on the men’s swimming team for the first three seasons before undergoing hormone treatment that lowered the swimmer’s level of testosterone so that the swimmer qualified in 2021 to compete as a member of the women’s swim team, has been breaking women’s records.
The record-breaking performances are drawing much ire, especially from women who perceive that allowing transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports is not fair to women who are at a biological disadvantage due to body structure and testosterone levels that transgender athletes take treatments for in order to lower their levels.
William Bruce Jenner, born on Oct. 28, 1949, became an American hero by setting the world record for the decathlon, a ten-event contest held during two consecutive days during Summer Olympics.
On day one, Jenner competed in the 100m, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 400m, and on day two, he completed his winning performance by finishing the 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1500m.
Jenner’s 8618 score was the highest in the recorded history of the Olympics, and he returned home from the 1976 Olympics in Montreal as a national hero.
After 22 years of marriage, he and Kris Jenner had two daughters, Kendall and Kylie, but the couple separated in 2013. In 2015, Bruce publically announced that he had changed his name to Caitlyn Marie Jenner.
The former track and field star released his book, “The Secrets of My Life” in 2017, and with some calling for Bruce’s gold medal to be removed from the Olympic register, the IOC resisted the pressure to do so.
Speaking on Fox News about transgender athletes competing in women’s sports after the NCCA’s announcement, Caitlyn claimed that allowing transgender athletes to compete against women is unfair and should be regulated to level the playing field so to speak.
The issue of transgender athletes competing in sports does not end on the college level because 80 percent of U.S. Olympians were or are college students.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will no longer determine transgender athlete eligibility by testosterone levels in transgender and intersex athletes.
The reason for the change is that the testing process could become damaging to the athletes.
As for the Winter Olympics in Beijing that are scheduled to begin on Feb. 4, the IOC as it pertains to transgender and intersex determination has ruled, “No athlete should be precluded from competing or excluded from competition on the exclusive ground of an unverifiable, alleged, or perceived unfair competitive advantage due to sex variations, physical appearance and/or transgender status.”
The NCAA Board of Governors released the NCAA’s rule change on Wed., Jan 20, leaving the inclusion of transgender and intersex athletes up to the governing bodies of the respective sports on the national or international level.
If no national governing body exists, then that particular sport would be under the international federation for the sport, but if there is no international federation, then the IOC policy would govern the sport.
The NCAA ruling is subject to review and recommendation by its Board of Governors, but the change in rules took immediate effect on Jan. 19, the day prior to the public announcement.
The NCAA’s policy now requires transgender athletes to document their testosterone levels four weeks before they compete in their respective sport’s championship in 2022.
As the lyrics of the song that Dylan recorded back in the 1960s proclaims, “Times They Are A-Changin.’”
Ray Allen is the Editor of the Virginian Review. Mr Allen received his A.B. degree in English and physical education (1963) and M.A. degree in secondary education (1965) from Morehead State University before earning his M.F.A. degree in theatre arts from UCLA (1980) where he majored in writing for motion pictures and television. He retired as an educator in 2004, having taught 11 subjects and having coached five varsity sports during his 41-year-career that led him to teach and coach in Ky., Mich., Calif. and Va.