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NCAA threatened with legal action if it doesn’t change its policy allowing biological males to compete against women


“The NCAA’s discriminatory policies and practices violate state and federal law, directly and proximately resulting in foreseeable and avoidable harms, damages, and losses to female athletes. The NCAA is not above the law. If you do not protect female athletes from discrimination on the basis of sex, we will embark on legal action to compel you to do so.”


The Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) has sent a letter to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) warning them that if the governing body for collegiate athletics does not change their policy on transgender athletes, they will face legal action.

Quick Facts

ICONS is an advocacy group consisting of current and former women’s college athletes that seeks to elevate and empower female athletes on and off the athletic field. On January 12, legal firm Jackson Bone LLP sent a letter on behalf of ICONS and other women’s organizations, urging the NCAA to change its policies on transgender athletes. Since 2010, the NCAA has allowed transgender athletes to compete according to their gender identity. The letter reads:

“In the world of college sports, it is impossible to provide equal opportunities for both sexes (as required by Title IX) without female-only teams. Yet the NCAA implements and perpetuates a policy of allowing male athletes on women’s teams, even as sports governing bodies and federal courts increasingly reject these unjust and inequitable policies that exclude young women from their own teams. The NCAA’s discriminatory policies and practices violate state and federal law, directly and proximately resulting in foreseeable and avoidable harms, damages, and losses to female athletes. The NCAA is not above the law. If you do not protect female athletes from discrimination on the basis of sex, we will embark on legal action to compel you to do so.”

The letter was delivered at the 2023 NCAA convention in San Antonio last week. A group of protestors gathered outside and held a rally demanding that the NCAA stop discriminating against women.

Christiana Kiefer, legal counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom(ADF), joined in the rally. Kiefer said action against the governing entity could be varied. A federal lawsuit isn’t the only action that could be taken. She explained,

“I think that could look like a Title IX complaint. And I think it could look like even universities starting to actually push back against the NCAA and saying, ‘Hey, we have a legal obligation to protect fair athletic opportunities for female athletes and if we fail to do that, you’re kind of binding our hands and not allowing us to fulfill our legal obligations to the female athletes at our schools.’”

Repeated scenarios of male athletes who identify as female beating female athletes have resulted in a push to keep transgender athletes out of women’s sports.

The most well-known of these is William Thomas, an Ivy League swimmer who competed for two years in men’s competitions, winning school and regional events but ranking #462 nationally. When Thomas began identifying as a female (under the female name Lia) and competed in the NCAA’s Division 1 women’s 500-yard freestyle event, he won easily, beating 2nd place finisher Emma Weyant by nearly two seconds.

By contrast, Izzi Henig was one of the fastest female swimmers in the country in 2021, even earning All-American status, but when the Yale student took on a male identity (under the new name Izsac), she floundered. This past November, she competed against men in the 50-yard freestyle and finished 79th against 83 swimmers, beating a one-armed swimmer and three swimmers who specialized in a different stroke.

The NCAA has said its goal is not whether transgender athletes are included but how.

Various lawsuits regarding transgender policies have drawn competing views from courts. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit failed to overturn a lower court ruling against female athletes who claimed they were harmed by losing to transgender athletes.

By contrast, in the case of B.P.J. v. West Virginia Department of Education, a federal district court recently upheld the West Virginia’s Save Women’s Sports Act, which bans biological male athletes from competing against women. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will likely appeal the decision.

AnnMarie Pariseau, a spokeswoman for ADF, which represented female athletes who intervened in the case in defense of the West Virginia law, told the Standing for Freedom Center in an email that the district court ruling was decided on the merits and is the “first time a federal court had the opportunity to fully consider the scientific evidence and legal arguments for protecting women’s sports.”

She added that ADF is

“prepared to defend West Virginia’s women’s sports law—and the female athletes it protects—for as long as it takes. If males are allowed to compete in the women’s category, then female athletes will lose podium spots, championship titles, and even scholarships to individuals who are bigger, faster, and stronger simply because they are male. That isn’t fair, and it isn’t safe. If we want a future where little girls can pursue their dreams on the track or in the pool or on the field, then we must protect women’s sports for females.”

This is an issue of good sportsmanship and fair competition, something the NCAA used to champion. Biological males have a biological advantage over females in athletic competition — that is basic scientific reality. It is not fair that a woman can work harder than a man, develop her technical skills in a superior fashion to his, and yet be denied victory simply because he has a natural advantage in the form of longer arms and legs, stronger muscles, bigger hearts, more lung capacity, etc.

As Title IX states very clearly, there should be separate sports for women and men. It is unjust to steal opportunities from women and give them to men, especially men who conveniently embrace womanhood after they’ve floundered in men’s competition.

The NCAA, as well as our government leaders, claim to care about equality and justice, yet they do not grant such propriety to female athletes. Instead, they are ensuring that women and girls will suffer harm, as will so many others who are being indoctrinated, confused, and bullied into embracing a radical and tyrannical gender ideology.

To understand and implement justice and equity, our leaders need to have wisdom derived from the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 2:1-9 says,

“My son, if you will receive my words
    And treasure my commandments within you,
Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
   Incline your heart to understanding;
For if you cry for discernment,
   Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver
   And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
   And discover the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
   From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
   He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
Guarding the paths of justice,
   And He preserves the way of His godly ones.
Then you will discern righteousness and justice
   And equity and every good course.”

If we want fairness in our country, we need leaders in government, schools, sports, and other societal institutions who know God. With this in mind, Christians must pray that those holding positions of authority and influence will seek and know His wisdom.

Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.

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