Grade-school and college playing fields have long been segregated on the basis of sex. For decades, male and female students were afforded the opportunity to participate in interscholastic athletic competitions on teams determined by their biological gender. Recently, “an increasing number of high school- and college-aged [students are publicly] identifying as transgender (or trans), meaning that their internal sense of their gender identity is different from the gender they were assigned at birth.” The emergence of openly transgender students in grade schools and colleges, in general, has resulted in vastly disparate rules promulgated by school districts to address how transgender individuals fit into the traditional operation of the education system. For the states that have enacted policies that address transgender students’ participation in interscholastic athletics, the guidance varies widely, and some states’ policies are so discriminatory that they effectively deny transgender students’ participation on their schools’ sports teams. While the issue of transgender individuals’ participation in sports has not been the most visible issue contemplated by school policies affecting transgender students, the issue has been cast into the spotlight even more after former Olympic decathlon gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner announced last year that she had transitioned to a woman. This comment explores where transgender individuals currently fit in our existing binary world of sex-segregated athletics and argues that transgender student-athletes should be allowed to participate in sports on the basis of their gender identity.
Response or Comment
Chelsea Shrader, Comment, Uniform Rules: Addressing the Disparate Rules that Deny Student-Athletes the Opportunity to Participate in Sports According to Gender Identity, 51 U Rich L. Rev. 637 (2017).