In a recently published Sports Business Journal op-ed, Bri Newland, EdD, clinical associate professor and academic director of the undergraduate program at the NYU SPS Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport, discussed how leveraging timely and relevant data could help bolster support for transgender athletes, especially as new policies and legislation are adopted across the US.
The Human Rights Campaign reports that at least 69 active bills in the US would deny sport participation consistent with the gender identity of trans youth and college athletes. Newland states that the lobby for these bills to keep trans (women/girl) athletes out of sport is based upon ignorance and bigotry—not facts or logic.
The current proposed bills not only directly oppose policy set by national and international sport governing bodies that allow trans athletes to participate, but they are also rooted in unfounded, dangerous assumptions, Newland adds.
“We must challenge where these assumptions originate from and why they exist, and we must use education to help overcome politicized fiction that contextualizes this topic. Rather than engaging in a culture war, rigorous scientific research should inform far-ranging policy choices—and gathering the data should be our priority for progress,” writes Newland. She firmly believe that there are too many variables we don’t know about transgender athletes and their performances, which cannot simply be covered by the types of “blanket policies” currently being proposed.
She concludes that if policy and laws are to be created with fairness, they should be based in science. Further peer-reviewed research needs to be developed and invested in now to make quality and meaningful decisions on appropriate legislation regarding transgender sports participation.
“The current state-sponsored bills are intentionally focused on trans minors, who will experience further exclusion, mental health challenges, and marginalization by being denied sport participation,” said Newland. “Sport, especially for youth, is intended to provide opportunities to play—not remove them. Trans athletes deserve to be heard, seen, and included.” And having appropriate data will help make those policy and legislative decisions fairer and more equitable for all athletes.
Newland’s op-ed was written in partnership with The Collective Think Tank, a global consortium of academic minds and industry leaders focused on gender parity and improving diversity, initiated by The Collective.
Read her full article (publication subscription required).