HRC President Responds to NAIA Vote to Ban Transgender Women From Playing Sports

by Jarred Keller

Vote bans trans athletes from playing sports in NAIA-affiliated schools, undermines basic decency deserved by all student athletes

WASHINGTON —Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, responded to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), one of the nation’s largest sports sanctioning bodies, and its vote to ban transgender women from playing on collegiate sports teams under their umbrella, beginning Aug. 1, 2024. The NAIA represents nearly 250 schools and tens of thousands of student athletes.

“Today, the NAIA decided to bar an entire category of people from competition simply because of a right-wing outrage campaign that purposefully misrepresents and distorts the realities of transgender athletes while doing nothing to support women’s sports,” said Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “The benefits of sports to the mind, body, and spirit are well known. Every student, including transgender student athletes, deserve the opportunity to be a part of a team and to learn about sportsmanship, self-discipline, perseverance and more. The NAIA should listen to Hall of Famers like Coach Dawn Staley, and do everything it can to expand access to athletics, including to correct the long-standing lack of resources and support for women’s athletics, instead of engaging in even more discrimination. The chilling message this sends not just to other sanctioning bodies but also to youth sports leagues across the country is dangerous and it must be stopped in its tracks.”

Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign

On Saturday, legendary college basketball coach Dawn Staley sent a different message to trans athletes, saying simply: "If you consider yourself a woman and you want to play sports or vice versa, you should be able to play." Staley, herself a hall of fame player, recognized the impact of extremist attacks on those who stand up for trans youth, continuing: "So now the barnstormer people are going to flood my timeline and be a distraction to me on one of the biggest days of our game, and I'm OK with that. I really am."

To learn more about transgender youth in sports, see these resources:

Contact Us

To make a general inquiry, please visit our contact page. Members of the media can reach our press office at: (202) 572-8968 or email