VIRGINIA, Va. (WAVY) — Big changes are coming for high school athletics at public schools across the Commonwealth.
A new policy will set a precedent, making way for transgender students to play sports. The move wasn’t made without concern, but there are many people who say it is just one more show of the support for equality in Virginia.
“I think it’s fantastic,” said Mary Aab, Executive Director of the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads. “I think it’s excellent. I’m really pleased to see Virginia moving forward with again being inclusive and understanding the value of allowing all individuals to play sports.”
The Virginia High School League’s Executive Director told WAVY.com Wednesday they wanted to be proactive. He said transgender athletes have become a big topic of discussion, with several schools recognizing the fact that they had transgender students and needed a policy in place to address their needs.
While the new policy went into effect Wednesday, it does have conditions that may not be immediately met. It specifically says, “A student-athlete will compete in the gender of their birth certificate unless they’ve undergone sex reassignment.” And it goes on to talk about hormonal therapy, addressing concerns of gender-related advantages some believe this move could result in.
“Of course we understand the concern,” said Aab. “We understand why people would want to ensure that any policy that’s written is equal and fair for everyone. I think it’s really important to understand that these are just kids, and all that really matters is they want to play sports.”
Aside from concerns about gender-related advantages, another major talking point for those opposed to this type of policy has been what to do about locker rooms. That decision is going to be left to individual schools.
The full text of the policy is as follows:
When a school identifies a transgender student who seeks to participate in VHSL sports and/or activities, the school should submit a letter requesting an appeal to the district chairman and the VHSL executive director. The letter should be responsive to the conditions in the policy below.
Privacy Statement: All discussions and documents at all levels of the process either by a member school, appeals panel, and/or the VHSL shall be kept confidential unless specifically requested by the student and family.
VHSL rules and regulations allow transgender student-athlete participation under the following conditions:
A. A student-athlete will compete in the gender of their birth certificate unless they have undergone sex reassignment.
B. A student-athlete who has undergone sex reassignment is eligible to compete in the reassigned gender when:
1. The student-athlete has undergone sex reassignment before puberty, OR
2. The student-athlete has undergone sex reassignment after puberty under all of the following conditions:
a. Surgical anatomical changes have been completed, including external genitalia changes and gonadectomy.
b. Hormonal therapy appropriate for the assigned sex has been administered in a verifiable manner and for a sufficient length of time to minimize gender-related advantages in sports competition.
c. If a student-athlete stops taking hormonal treatment, they will be required to participate in the sport consistent with their birth gender.
C. A student-athlete seeking to participate as a result of sex reassignment must access the VHSL eligibility appeals process.
Note: VHSL honors and respects all individuals based on gender, race, sexual orientation and creed while striving to provide safe and equitable competition.