On December 1, USRowing, the governing body for the sport of rowing in the United States, released the first update to their transgender policy since 2016.
For youth and adult athletes, the new guidance states that they "shall be allowed to participate in a rowing activity in accordance with such athlete’s expressed gender identity irrespective of the sex listed on their birth certificate, and regardless of whether the athlete has undergone any medical treatments."
College Athletes are under the restrictions of the NCAA guidelines, which are governed by the World Rowing’s Rule book. This states that a male can compete in the women's category if their testosterone levels are below 5 nmol/L for 12 months.
Starting on March 1, 2023, USRowing will use four categories for their competitions: Women, Men, Mixed Events which are open only to those in the Masters Division, and an "Open Gender" category. In Mixed Events, a team must consist of 50 percent athletes "assigned female at birth," and 50 percent "athletes of any gender."
The rules state that athletes can compete as a gender different than their birth gender, and must register prior to the season with their preferred gender. A note is made for female athletes taking testosterone, who must compete in the Men’s category. No other notes are made for those who could be taking other cross-sex hormones, like men taking estrogen.
As the new guidance was being reviewed in October, Co-founder for the Independent Council on Women's Sports (ICONS) Marshi Smith urged USRowing not to implement these policies. She stated, "sadly, many don’t realize that without making the women and girls category exclusive to females, as USRowing has failed to do, they are overtly discriminating against their female athletes."
In recent years we have seen many sports organizations changing the Transgender policies for their sports. After Lia Thomas went from being a mediocre men's swimmer to winning the NCAA 500 Freestyle in swimming, USA Swimming changed their policy to require testosterone levels under 5 nmol/L for over 36 months. The NCAA decided to allow individual sports organizations to determine the policy for each sport.
Science is now supporting the notion that trans women can never eliminate their biological advantage with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Following a study, the UK Sports council recommended establishing an open category. In September of 2021, the Sports Councils Equality Group (SCEG) said, "for many sports, the inclusion of transgender people, fairness and safety cannot co-exist in a single competitive model."
The Post Millennial caught up with Marshi Smith, who said, "the Biden Administration's proposed Title IX changes have emboldened sports governing bodies like USRowing to prioritize male feelings over female rower’s rights to equal opportunities for success on the water. If a male can simply self identify into a sporting category, then we will see all womens sports categories become mens categories."
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