What is the NCAA transgender student athlete policy? We’re breaking it down

Controversy over trans athletes and Roanoke College Women’s Swim Team continues

SALEM, Va. – The debate over transgender student-athletes continues after the Roanoke College Women’s Swim Team publicly called on the NCAA, USA Swimming, and lawmakers to change policies and laws to prevent trans women from competing in women’s sports.

“The difference between the men’s times and women’s times are enormous and it is not because women don’t work hard enough,” said sophomore swimmer Quinn Haley.

The team acknowledged that the school was merely following policy.

“It should be noted that the school was following policy, the NCAA policy, which tosses women like us aside as an afterthought,” said Lily Mullens, a junior and captain on the team. “Throughout this entire experience, people in power with positions to make change did nothing. Nobody wants to stand up for women.”

That NCAA policy requires trans females to complete one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment before competing on a women’s team.

The policy also requires transgender athletes to meet the sport standard for documented testosterone levels prior to any competition during the regular season, prior to the first competition in an NCAA championship event, and prior to any competition in the non-championship segment.

This updated policy was put in place the same year the first openly transgender athlete — Lia Thomas — won an NCAA Championship, sparking nationwide controversy.

The Roanoke College Women’s Swim Team argued that by allowing a trans woman to compete, the biological females were put at a physical disadvantage.

“Why would I even try to swim if I was going to have to race against a biological man?” said Mullens. “My defeat was written in biology at that point. There was no heart or grit that could overcome the laws of nature.”

LGBTQ+ rights activist and former Brown University competitive swimmer Peter Volosin said that success in the pool comes down to work ethic.

“I can see where they’re coming from. And I can understand, but that’s not coming from a place of acceptance,” said Volosin, a Roanoke City Councilman and member of the Roanoke Diversity Center.

“In some ways, it’s a bit selfish in saying that, ‘Oh, well I should beat this person. Or I should have gotten first place. Or I should do this or whatever.’ If you should do that, you should be training harder, period. That’s it,” he said.

“I can tell you right now, Katie Ledecky will get in a pool and even in my peak, would kick my butt,” Volosin added. “Because she trains hard, she works hard, and she is where she is because of what she does. And you can’t fault her for that.”

Riley Gaines, a 12-time NCAA All-American swimmer who has advocated against the inclusion of trans-women in women’s sports, stood alongside the women’s swim team. On Friday, she snapped back online, tweeting:

“‘Train harder’ is the most ignorant, arrogant, and infuriating response to women saying NO to men in our sports. When you see Volosin on the ballot next election, remember he’s anti-woman.”

Peter Volosin is a Roanoke City Council Member who says if women want to beat men, they should just “train harder”. He also says we should place the burden of trans individuals mental health on our own shoulders as their well-being is more important than ours. And if you don't do… pic.twitter.com/oWQnnfhNh2

— Riley Gaines (@Riley_Gaines_) October 6, 2023

This national issue, is now center stage in the Roanoke Valley.

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