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Alabama to Wyoming: State policies on transgender athlete participation

Thom Bridge/Independent Record/AP

The NCAA and International Olympic Committee have rules governing transgender athletes' participation in sports, but there is no uniform policy for youth sports in elementary, middle or high schools in the United States. Instead, each state has its own guidelines, rules and/or laws. As of Oct. 25, 2021, here's a state-by-state look at the current rules in an ever-changing landscape.

Alabama

On April 23, 2021, Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law HB 391, which establishes different sports categories fixed by sex in K-12 public schools and bars athletes assigned male at birth from participating in the girls category under any circumstances. It also bars athletes assigned female at birth from participating in the boys category unless there is no comparable girls opportunity (like football). The Alabama High School Athletic Association has an additional policy that establishes sex by original birth certificate.

Alaska

Schools determine eligibility for transgender athletes in Alaska, and if a school does not have a policy, then a student's birth certificate is used to determine sex. The Alaska School Activities Association does not have a policy and there is no state law, although a bill was introduced during the 2021 legislative session. It did not pass.

Arkansas

In March, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed SB 354. The law prohibits transgender girls and women from participating in girls' and women's sports. Arkansas also is the only state that has passed a ban on gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth, after the legislature overrode Hutchinson's veto, but that law has been blocked in federal court.

Arizona

The Arizona Interscholastic Association uses a multistep process. Students must give notice to the school, and then to AIA. Then, they must submit the following documentation: a letter telling the student's "gender story," a letter of support from a parent or guardian, a school administrator and a healthcare provider. The student's eligibility is determined by the Gender Identity Eligibility Committee convened by AIA. Several bills aimed to restrict transgender participation have been introduced in the Arizona legislature, but so far none has become law.

California

AB 1266, which was signed into law in 2013, requires public schools to allow transgender students to access bathrooms and sports teams in accordance with their gender identity. The California Interscholastic Federation policy echoes the law, but has an appeals process in case there is a dispute. There are no medical or legal requirements stated.

Colorado

Students in Colorado must inform their school in writing that their gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth, and the Colorado High School Activities Association requires the school to perform a confidential evaluation. All forms of documentation are voluntary and there are no medical or legal requirements stated.

Connecticut

School districts in Connecticut determine the proper placement for each athlete, but the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference gives guidance that the districts should make those decisions based on the gender identity reflected in school records and the students' daily activities. There are no medical or legal requirements. In the state legislature, a bill was introduced in 2021 that would bar transgender girls from participating on girls' and women's teams, but it did not pass.

Delaware

The Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association allows transgender students to participate in accordance with their gender identity under any of the following conditions: a student provides an updated birth certificate, passport, or driver's license that recognizes the student's identity; a physician certifies that a student has "had appropriate clinical treatment" for medical transition or has begun a medical transition. Each school determines a student's eligibility, and any school can challenge the participation of a transgender student if there are concerns about safety and competitive equity.

Florida

On June 1, 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 1028, which has a provision that states that sex for athletic participation in interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural and club public school settings will be established by "official birth certificate," which was filed at or near birth. Those assigned female at birth may participate in boys' and men's sports, but those assigned male at birth may not participate in girls' and women's sports.

Georgia

Individual schools in Georgia set their own policies for athlete classification, and the Georgia High School Association does not hear appeals or provide guidance. If a Georgia school decided to allow a transgender girl to participate on a girls' team or a transgender boy to participate on a boys' team, the association would allow that to happen. Legislation was introduced during the 2021 session aimed at limiting transgender athletes' ability to play sports, but no law was passed.

Hawaii

The Hawaii High School Athletic Association has no discernable policy and the state has no law. A bill that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in girls and women's sports was filed in 2021, but it did not pass.

Idaho

Idaho became the first state to pass a law restricting transgender students' access to sports in March 2020. Gov. Brad Little signed HB 500, which says that students assigned male at birth may not participate in girls' sports in public elementary, middle, high school or college. It includes club and intramural sports. A preliminary injunction was granted by a federal judge in August 2020, so the law has not gone into effect. The Idaho High School Activities Association policy mirrors the language of HB 500.

Illinois

The Illinois High School Association makes eligibility determination for student-athletes. A student must notify the school that their gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth and provide medical documentation. The IHSA then convenes a group of medical personnel to act in an advisory role when reviewing rulings. Legislation aimed at restricting the ability of transgender girls to play on girls' and women's teams was introduced in Illinois but did not pass during the 2021 session.

Indiana

The Indiana High School Athletic Association determines eligibility for sex-segregated sports by birth certificate. However, students can apply for a waiver. To qualify, students must establish that they have socially transitioned for at least one year. Transgender boys must provide documentation that they have begun hormone therapy. Transgender girls must provide documentation that they have completed at least one year of hormone therapy or had surgery and mitigated any possible additional physiological advantages (bone density, muscle mass, testosterone levels, etc.). A committee compiled by the IHSAA rules on the waiver. The vote must be unanimous.

Iowa

Because Iowa is the only state in the country with separate high school associations for boys and girls, two separate policies are in place. The Iowa High School Athletic Association (boys sports) allows transgender boys to participate without any medical or legal restrictions. In girls athletics, member schools make eligibility decisions. The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union does not have a policy, but does advise its membership to consider inclusion of transgender girls when making eligibility decisions. Gov. Kim Reynolds said she would sign a bill banning transgender girls' participation in sports, but no bill reached her desk during the 2021 legislative session.

Kansas

Schools in Kansas determine the appropriate athletic placement for each student. The Kansas State High School Activities Association provides guidance that schools should consider gender identity used for school records, medical documentation and potential "gender identity-related advantages" should the student be allowed to participate. The association handles disputes and appeals. In April of 2021, Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a bill that would have banned transgender girls from participating in girls' and women's sports.

Kentucky

The Kentucky High School Activities Association policy states that students' eligibility for sex-segregated sports will be determined by birth certificate unless students were "legally reassigned." To be considered "reassigned" a student may provide an updated birth certificate, passport, drivers' license, or other certified medical record to a school administrator. A student who is considered reassigned is eligible to participate either because they never went through endogenous puberty, or because they've taken the following steps: surgery and hormone therapy for "a sufficient length of time." A bill that would have prohibited transgender girls from playing in girls' and women's sports in public schools from kindergarten to college was introduced in 2021 but did not become law.

Louisiana

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association does not have an official policy, but it provides member schools with guidance in the form of a position statement. This statement says that eligibility in sex-segregated sports should be determined by birth certificate unless a student has "undergone sex-reassignment." Transgender students should go through a hardship appeal process, which convenes a committee to rule on the student's eligibility. The statement recommends that a transgender student be eligible to participate in accordance with their gender identity if they never went through endogenous puberty or if the following conditions are met: surgery, all legal documentation has been updated, and hormone therapy has been administered for "a sufficient length of time." The recommendation is that eligibility shouldn't begin until a student is two years removed from surgery. Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed a 2021 bill that would have prevented transgender girls from playing in girls' and women's sports.

Maine

The Maine Principals' Association policy outlines procedures for student-athletes to compete in a category consistent with their gender identity. A student must notify their school and the school requests a hearing with the Gender Identity Equity Committee. The student must provide school records, medical documentation, documentation that establishes the validity of the student's gender identity, a list of athletic activities in which the student wishes to participate, and documentation of the student's prior athletic history and achievements. The committee will grant the request unless it does not believe the student's identity is valid or if the committee believes the student will have an athletic advantage. A bill that would restrict transgender girls' ability to participate in girls' and women's sports was filed in 2021 but did not become law.

Maryland

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Association provides guidance for local school districts to determine eligibility for transgender students. The recommendations are that each student should be allowed to participate in accordance with their gender identity regardless of what is listed on the student's records. Should there be a concern about a student's gender identity, it should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis through establishing an appeal review committee. There are no medical and legal requirements stated.

Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association cites existing state law that requires students to be "accepted by their schools as the gender with which they identify across all school programs." Local schools make make eligibility determinations, but MIAA focuses on gender identity, rather than sex, when separating sports. The regulation states "a student shall not be excluded from participation on a gender-specific sports team that is consistent with the student's bona fide gender identity."

Michigan

The Michigan High School Athletic Association allows transgender boys to participate in boys' sports without restriction. For transgender girls, the MHSAA executive director makes determinations on a case-by-case basis, considering the sex indicated on legal documents, and what medical steps have been taken, if any. A bill that would have barred transgender athletes from participating on teams consistent with their gender identity was introduced but did not become law.

Minnesota

The Minnesota High School League allows transgender students to participate in accordance with their gender identity. There are no medical or legal requirements. A bill that would have restricted the ability of transgender athletes to participate in sports was introduced in the Minnesota legislature in 2021 but did not pass.

Mississippi

Gov. Tate Reeves signed SB 2536 in March, making Mississippi the first state in 2021 to enact legislation limiting transgender athletes' ability to participate in sports. The law states that student-athletes assigned male at birth may not participate in girls' sports in public elementary, middle, high school or college. It includes club and intramural sports. The Human Rights Campaign has announced it has plans to sue, but no lawsuits have been filed yet.

Missouri

The Missouri State High School Activities Association uses a hormone-based policy. All transgender students must submit an application to participate in a category that differs from their sex assigned at birth. Transgender boys who have not begun hormone therapy may participate in boys' sports, and must do so if they have begun hormone therapy. Transgender girls can participate only in boys' sports unless they have engaged in hormone therapy for one year. Legislation that would restrict transgender athletes' ability to participate in sports consistent with their gender identity was introduced in 2021 but did not pass.

Montana

In May of 2021, Gov. Greg Gianforte signed into law HB 112, which states that students assigned male at birth may not participate in girls' sports in public elementary, middle, high school, or college. It includes club and intramural sports.

Nebraska

The Nebraska School Activities Association uses students' birth certificates to determine eligibility for sex-segregated sports. To participate in a manner consistent with their gender identity, transgender students must meet the following criteria: the student lives as their gender identity; testimony provided by parents, friends, and/or teachers attesting to the validity of the student's gender identity; and verification from a healthcare professional. Additionally, transgender girls must have completed one year of hormone therapy or had surgery, and demonstrate through a "medical examination and physiological testing" that they do not have any additional advantages. There are no requirements stated for transgender boys. To become eligible, a student's school must determine that they meet the requirements set by the NSAA and file an application with the association. The NSAA will convene a committee to review applications. There is an appeal process should a student's request be denied.

Nevada

The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association provides a position statement and policy guidance, but it is not regulatory. The guidance stipulates that schools should make the initial determination of a student's eligibility as reflected in the student's school records and daily life activities in school and the community. Schools may also consider additional documentation provided by the student. No medical or legal requirements are stated.

New Hampshire

Individual schools in New Hampshire determine the best placement for student-athletes. The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association instructs that the determination of a student's eligibility to participate in gender-specific sports should be made based on the gender identity of that student as reflected in school records and daily life activities in school and the community. No medical or legal requirements are stated. A bill was introduced in New Hampshire during the 2021 legislative session that aimed to prevent transgender girls from participating in girls' and women's sports, but it did not become law.

New Jersey

New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association policy states that transgender students may participate either according to their sex assigned at birth or in a manner consistent with their gender identity, but not both. There are no medical or legal requirements stated. Any member school may appeal the eligibility of a transgender student, and that appeal will be heard by a committee. A bill that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in girls' and women's sports was filed in 2021, but it did not pass.

New Mexico

Eligibility for sex-segregated sports in New Mexico is determined by birth certificate, original or amended. No additional guidance is provided by the New Mexico Activities Association. A bill that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in girls' and women's sports was filed in 2021, but it did not pass.

New York

The New York State Public High School Association policy is that all students should be able to participate in accordance with their gender identity. A student must notify their superintendent that they would like to participate in a manner consistent with their gender identity. The student's school determines eligibility, which is confirmed by the superintendent using documentation provided by the student. Any appeal of a transgender student-athlete's eligibility goes to the commissioner of education.

North Carolina

Eligibility for sex-segregated sports in North Carolina is determined by birth certificate. Transgender students must submit a gender identity request form through their school to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. The following must be included for eligibility consideration: documentation from parents, friends, and/or teachers affirming the student's gender identity; a list of the student's medications; a list of "interventions that have happened related to the gender identity" of the student; and verification from a healthcare professional. The request will be referred to the Gender Identity Committee for review. A bill that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in girls' and women's sports was introduced during the 2021 legislative session, but it did not pass.

North Dakota

The North Dakota High School Athletic Association uses a hormone therapy-based policy. Transgender students are eligible to participate in the category according to their sex assigned at birth. A transgender boy who has begun hormone therapy must participate in boys' sports and is no longer eligible for girls' sports. A transgender girl is eligible to participate in girls' sports following one year of hormone therapy. Gov. Doug Burgum vetoed a bill in April 2021 that would have restricted transgender athletes' ability to participate in sports.

Ohio

The Ohio High School Athletic Association uses a hormone therapy-based policy. A transgender boy who has not begun hormone therapy may participate in girls' or boys' sports. To be eligible to participate in boys' sports after beginning hormone therapy, medical evidence must be submitted that demonstrates increased muscle mass from testosterone does not exceed that of a cisgender boy and that testosterone levels do not exceed those of cisgender boys. Additionally, testosterone levels must be monitored every three to six months. To be eligible for participation in girls' sports, transgender girls must have completed one year of hormone therapy or provide medical evidence that she does not possess physical (bone structure, muscle mass, testosterone, hormonal, etc.) or physiological advantages. Hormone treatments must be monitored by a physician, with regular reports sent to the OHSAA executive director's office. An amendment to Ohio's name, image, and likeness bill for college athletes that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in girls' and women's sports was approved. The NIL bill with that amendment has passed the House.

Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Secondary School Athletic Association uses a hormone therapy-based policy. A transgender boy who has not begun hormone therapy may participate in either girls' or boys' sports, but must participate in boys' sports after beginning hormone therapy. A transgender girl may participate in girls' sports after completing at least one year of hormone therapy, otherwise she must participate in boys' sports. All transgender athletes taking hormones must provide documentation from a physician. Multiple bills that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in girls' and women's sports were filed, but none have become law.

Oregon

Once a student/parent/guardian notifies the student's school of their desire to participate in a sporting category that differs from their sex assigned at birth, the Oregon School Activities Association will recognize that decision and hear no appeals from member schools on the issue. No medical or legal requirements are stated.

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association gives power to individual principals to decide when "a student's gender is questioned or uncertain." No other detail is given. A bill that would have prohibited transgender girls from participating in girls' and women's sports was filed in 2021, but it did not become law.

Rhode Island

Individual schools in Rhode Island determine students' eligibility for sex-segregated sports. The Rhode Island Interscholastic League provides instruction to those schools that gender identity should be based on current school records and the daily life activities of the student at school and in the community. If a student's gender identity differs from that listed on their records, the student must notify the school, and the principal makes the determination based on documentation from a parent, guidance counselor or doctor, psychologist or other medical professional. A bill was introduced during the 2021 legislative session that would have prohibited transgender girls from playing girls' and women's sports, but it did not pass.

South Carolina

In order to participate, transgender students in South Carolina must notify their school, and the school must contact the South Carolina High School League for a hardship application to initiate the gender identity process. The student and school need to submit the following documentation: transcript and school registration; documentation from parents, guardians, friends, teachers, etc., that attest to the student's consistent gender identity; a list of accommodations made by the school for the student; and verification from a healthcare professional. The application and documentation is referred to the gender identity eligibility advisory board for consideration. A bill that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in girls' and women's sports was filed in 2021, but it did not become law.

South Dakota

Gov. Kristi Noem signed two executive orders in 2021, one that restricts athletic participation for transgender girls in public K-12 schools, and another that does the same at the collegiate level. Noem and the legislature clashed over the passage of a bill that was similar to Noem's orders -- a bill that she originally said she'd sign. Noem has signaled interest in revisiting the issue legislatively, but that has yet to materialize.

Tennessee

In May of 2021, Gov. Bill Lee signed a law requiring student-athletes "gender for purposes of participation" in athletic events to be determined by their original birth certificate. The law affects public high school and middle schools but excludes grades K-4.

Texas

On Oct. 25, 2021, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law HB 25, which allows student-athletes participating in interscholastic sports to participate only in the sports that correspond with the sex listed on their "official birth certificate," which is defined as the document issued "at or near the time of the student's birth." The University Interscholastic League had previously accepted amended birth certificates, but the law overrides that policy. A student assigned female at birth may only participate in boys' sports if a corresponding girls' sport is not available, such as football and baseball.

Utah

Schools determine eligibility for transgender students in Utah based on school records and daily life activities. But the Utah High School Activities Association also uses a hormone-based policy to determine eligibility. Transgender boys must participate in boys' sports after beginning hormone therapy; transgender girls may participate in girls' sports after completing one year of hormone therapy. The UHSAA also reviews a student's "treatments and medications" and documentation from a healthcare professional. A bill that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in girls and women's sports was filed in 2021, but it did not become law.

Vermont

Students in Vermont are required by the Vermont Principals' Association to notify their superintendent that they wish to participate in athletics consistent with their gender identity, and the home school will make the eligibility determination. The student must give the superintendent documentation from parents/guardians, guidance counselor, and/or medical professional, though a medical diagnosis is not required. There are no medical or legal requirements stated.

Virginia

The Virginia High School League uses a multi-level review process. The student or parent/guardian must contact the principal of the student's school and provide the following documentation: a personal statement from the student; one or two support letters from parents, friends or teachers; a list of medications; and verification from a physician. The principal forwards the student's case to the district committee. The district committee summarizes its review and escalates it to the VHSL executive director and/or compliance officer. If the decision does not grant the student eligibility, they may appeal.

Washington (State)

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association policy states that each athlete will participate in programs "consistent with their gender identity or the gender most consistently expressed." There are no medical or legal requirements. If there is a question about eligibility, a student may appeal. A bill that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in girls' and women's sports was introduced in 2021, but it did not pass.

Washington, D.C.

Each school in Washington, D.C. determines the best placement of students when it comes to sex-segregated sports, but the District of Columbia State Athletic Association gives clear guidance that schools must allow students to participate in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity. The association also has both an appeals and mediation process should a school deny a transgender student's eligibility. There are no medical or legal requirements stated.

West Virginia

On April 28, Gov. Jim Justice signed into law HB 3293, which mandates that student-athletes assigned male at birth may not participate in girls' sports in public elementary, middle, high school, or college. It includes club and intramural sports.

Wisconsin

Schools in Wisconsin determine eligibility for transgender student-athletes. Students must notify their school in writing, and then submit medical documentation, a personal statement, verification from a healthcare professional of the student's gender identity, additional written testimony from the student's parents, friends, and/or teachers. The Wisconsin Interscholastic Activities Association provides additional guidance around hormone therapy: a transgender boy must participate in the boys' category if he's started hormone therapy, but can participate in the girls' category "if desired" if he hasn't; a transgender girl may participate in the girls' category after completing one year of hormone therapy, but can participate in the boys' category "if desired" before that time. These regulations apply even if a student has transitioned socially. There is an appeals process. Bills aimed at restricting transgender athletes' participation were introduced in 2021, but none became law.

Wyoming

Schools determine athlete eligibility, but the Wyoming High School Activities Association gives guidance that schools should consider all students for an opportunity to participate in accordance with their gender identity. Schools may consider gender identity from school records, medical documentation, and what the "effects of the approval would have on the individual and those other individuals that would be affected by the change." The WHSHAA will get involved only if a school requests a review of its decision, or if a school denies a student eligibility.