16 Female Athletes Sue NCAA over Trans Policy

Michael Foust | CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor | Updated: Mar 15, 2024
16 Female Athletes Sue NCAA over Trans Policy

16 Female Athletes Sue NCAA over Trans Policy

Riley Gaines and a coalition of 15 other current and former college athletes sued the NCAA in federal court Thursday, alleging the body violated their Title IX and constitutional rights when it allowed a biological male to compete in and win a 2022 race during the NCAA Swimming Championships.

The landmark lawsuit, filed in Georgia where the 2022 competition took place, alleges that the NCAA and the University System of Georgia “have engaged in a continuing pattern and practice of discrimination against women in violation of Title IX” by “implementing policies which allow males who identify as transgender to access female locker rooms and take the places of women on women’s teams.” Title IX is a 1972 law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities.

In 2022, Penn’s Lia Thomas became the first transgender woman to win an NCAA championship with a dominant performance in the women’s 500-yard freestyle. Thomas previously swam for Penn as a man.

The lawsuit requests an injunction preventing the NCAA and the University System of Georgia from enforcing the transgender policy. It alleges the NCAA violated Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.

The Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) is backing the suit.

“This lawsuit against the NCAA isn’t just about competition; it’s a fight for the very essence of women’s sports,” said ICONS co-founder Marshi Smith, a collegiate All-American and NCAA national champion swimmer. “We’re standing up for justice and the rights of female athletes to compete on a level playing field. It’s about preserving the legacy of Title IX and ensuring that the future of women’s sports is as bright as its past.”

The suit says the 16 athletes are suing the NCAA to “secure for future generations of women the promise of Title IX that is being denied them and other college women.”

“The NCAA and its members are not above the law and must comply with it,” the suit says. “... The NCAA has simultaneously imposed a radical anti-woman agenda on college sports, reinterpreting Title IX to define women as a testosterone level, permitting men to compete on women’s teams, and destroying female safe spaces in women’s locker rooms by authorizing naked men possessing full male genitalia to disrobe in front of non-consenting college women and creating situations in which unwilling female college athletes unwittingly or reluctantly expose their naked or partially clad bodies to males, subjecting women to a loss of their constitutional right to bodily privacy.”

The NCAA violated Title IX by “purposefully adopting and amending policies and taking multiple actions specifically intended” to allow Thomas to compete, the suit says.

Twelve of the athletes in the lawsuit are swimmers. The suit also includes female athletes in soccer, track, volleyball and tennis.

Image credit: ©Getty Images/SolisImage

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist PressChristianity TodayThe Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

16 Female Athletes Sue NCAA over Trans Policy