Fisher College In Boston Affected By New NAIA Transgender Athlete Ban From Women’s Sports

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Males who identify as transgender will not be allowed to compete in women’s sports in one college sports governing body starting next school year, affecting one school in Massachusetts:  Fisher College in Boston.

The Council of Presidents of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics — known as the NAIA — voted 20-0 on Monday, April 8 to adopt a new transgender athlete policy. This comes two years after the NAIA developed a Transgender Task Force aimed at “creating fairness in competition, treating individuals with respect and dignity, and ensuring transparent efforts and encouraging member feedback,” according to a press release the NAIA provided to NewBostonPost.

“We are unwavering in our support of fair competition for our student-athletes,” NAIA president and chief executive officer Jim Carr said in the written statement. “It is crucial that NAIA member institutions, conferences, and student-athletes participate in an environment that is equitable and respectful. With input from our member institutions and the Transgender Task Force, the NAIA’s Council of Presidents has confirmed our path forward.”

Here is NAIA’s transgender athlete policy, which takes effect on August 1, 2024, according to the organization’s web site:


Student-athletes may participate in NAIA competition in accordance with the following conditions.

A. Participation by students in sports designated as male by the NAIA: All eligible NAIA student-athletes may participate in NAIA-sponsored male sports.

B. Participation by students in sports designated as female by the NAIA: Only NAIA student-athletes whose biological sex* is female may participate in NAIA-sponsored female sports.

They may participate under the following conditions:

1.  A student who has not begun any masculinizing hormone therapy may participate without limitation.
2.  A student who has begun masculinizing hormone therapy may participate in:
a.  All activities that are internal to the institution (does not include external competition), including workouts, practices, and team activities. Such participation is at the discretion of the NAIA member institution where the student is enrolled; and
b.  External competition that is not a countable contest as defined by the NAIA (per NAC Policy Article XXV, Section A, Item 12). Such participation is at the discretion of the NAIA member institution where the student is enrolled.


The asterisk next to the words “biological sex” exists to give the organization some flexibility with intersex people, who have genetically caused aspects of both maleness and femaleness.

“For the sake of this policy, biological sex is defined by distinguishing characteristics and can be supported by birth certificate or signed affidavit,” the NAIA’s policy says. “While rare, there have been cases where the sex assigned at birth does not match the biological sex, which led to the use of biological sex in this document.”

The NAIA has 241 member schools, including Fisher College. The NAIA primarily consists of small faith-based private colleges, according to Honest Game. Fisher is the only Massachusetts college in the NAIA.

For reference, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) features 1,118 schools.

The NAIA has had instances of transgender athlete participation in the past. Ottawa University (Ottawa, Kansas) had a male on its women’s volleyball team for part of last season, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. And Mack Beggs, a female who identifies as a transgender man, competed on the men’s wrestling team at Life University in Georgia from 2018 to 2022 — a situation that wouldn’t be affected by this rule that keeps males out of women’s sports. Other instances that weren’t widely reported also likely occurred.  

The NAIA’s previous transgender athlete policy allowed males to participate in women’s sports if they underwent “one year of hormone treatment related to gender transition before competing on a women’s team,” according to the NAIA’s handbook.

Fisher College has not yet publicly addressed the policy change.

Fisher is a small private college, located at the intersection of Beacon Street and Arlington Street in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. It serves about 1,250 students and has a 72 percent acceptance rate, according to U.S. News and World Report.

A press spokesman for Fisher College could not be reached for comment on Tuesday or Wednesday.


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