Athlete Ally Spearheads Letter from Trans & Nonbinary Student Athletes to NCAA

May 26, 2021 (New York, NY) — Today, Athlete Ally Policy and Program Manager Emet Marwell sent a letter to the NCAA from 50 current and former transgender and non-binary student athletes, including himself, asking the NCAA to take action in response to anti-transgender athlete bills. Sports Illustrated broke the news in an exclusive story, and the letter in full is below.


Dear President Mark Emmert, Mr. Derrick Gragg, and the NCAA Board of Governors,

We, the undersigned, are deeply disappointed and hurt by the NCAA’s choice to host Division I softball championship games in states with transgender athlete bans. We are a group of transgender and non-binary current and former NCAA student-athletes, the community you claimed to “firmly and unequivocally support” in your statement released on April 12th, 2021.  Only a month ago, you declared the NCAA “supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports” and that “[t]his commitment is grounded in our values of inclusion and fair competition.”  This statement is in stark contrast to the decision to host championship games in states with transgender athlete bans.

Until now, you have done your part to uphold these values. In 2016, the NCAA pulled seven championship events from North Carolina following the state’s passage of the discriminatory HB2, or the Charlotte Bathroom Bill. The NCAA Board of Governors released a statement at that time saying, “NCAA championships and events must promote an inclusive atmosphere for all college athletes, coaches, administrators and fans.” You acknowledged that the law made it “challenging to guarantee that host communities can help deliver on that commitment if NCAA events remained in the state.”  Despite significant pushback from hundreds of current NCAA student-athletes, NCAA administrators and coaches, professional athletes, and civil rights organizations, you have refused to uphold your own anti-discrimination policy and stated values.

Now in 2021, the NCAA is hosting championship events in Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee where anti-transgender legislation specifically targets trans and non-binary athletes and bans their participation in sport.  What changed?  Why did our rights matter five years ago but not today?

Your actions speak louder than your words: you are not protecting the rights of trans and non-binary athletes to participate. We will not be silent as you perform your allyship to the world only to turn around and support those hurting trans athletes the most. We have endured too much already.  We ask you to please listen to us, the people who are and have been directly and deeply impacted by transphobia in sport.  In a time when we are constantly under attack in all facets of life, protect us in the one thing that brings us all together: sport. Choose to do what is in the best interest of all student-athletes by creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all.

We ask for clear answers to the following questions:

  • How will you ensure a discrimination-free and welcoming environment for student-athletes while holding championships in states that have banned transgender student-athletes from participating in sports? And, as in the case of Tennessee, have also passed anti-trans bathroom bills? 
  • Will you uphold your nondiscriminiation policy and publicly commit to not holding NCAA events in states with legislation that actively discriminates against transgender student-athletes? 
  • As you did when HB2 in North Carolina passed, will you move championship events from states that pass legislation that openly and clearly discriminates against LGBTQ+ student-athletes?

Sincerely,

  1. Emet Marwell (he/him), Mount Holyoke College, Field Hockey
  2. Dani Wheeler (they/he), Nebraska Wesleyan University, Swimming, Track & Field
  3. Anonymous Student-Athlete, University at Buffalo, Rowing
  4. Priyana Kalita (she/they), Miami University, Tennis
  5. Jordan Dawson (he/him), Keene State College, Cross Country, Track & Field
  6. Charlie Myran (he/they), Smith College, Lacrosse
  7. Shane Diamond (he/him), Bowdoin College, Ice Hockey
  8. Anonymous Student-Athlete, Endicott College, Lacrosse
  9. Jordan Keesler (they/them), Agnes Scott College, Softball, Cross Country
  10. Anonymous Student-Athlete, Mount Holyoke College, Lacrosse
  11. Anonymous Student-Athlete, Mount Holyoke College, Cross Country
  12. Anonymous Student-Athlete, Mount Holyoke College, Cross Country, Track & Field, Rowing
  13. Cj Johnson (they/them), Earlham College, Field Hockey
  14. Anonymous Student-Athlete, Mount Holyoke College, Rowing
  15. Liam Miranda (he/him), Duke University, Rowing
  16. Anonymous Student-Athlete, Duke University, Soccer
  17. Anonymous Student-Athlete, Mount Holyoke College, Lacrosse
  18. Erika Wong, Johns Hopkins University, Fencing
  19. Sunshine Anderson (they/them), Mills College, Rowing
  20. Leo Ross (they/them), Oberlin College, Basketball
  21. Anonymous Student-Athlete, Colorado State University, Track & Field
  22. Lily Gould (she/they), Springfield College, Track & Field
  23. Trinity Wilkinson (they/them), Agnes Scott College, Softball, Cross Country
  24. Anonymous Student-Athlete, Mount Holyoke College, Volleyball
  25. CJ Leight (they/them), Mount Holyoke College, Lacrosse
  26. Luis Romero (he/they), Michigan State University, Rowing
  27. Jaya Nagarajan-Swenson (they/them), Mount Holyoke College, Rowing
  28. CeCé Telfer (she/her), Franklin Pierce University, Track & Field
  29. Natalie Fahey (she/her), Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, Swimming & Diving
  30. Arin Yost, Agnes Scott College, Cross Country
  31. Peyton (Dean) Boughton (they/them), Oberlin College, Cross Country, Track & Field
  32. Schuyler Bailar (he/him), Harvard University, Swimming
  33. Matt Wysocki (he/him), Mount Holyoke College, Lacrosse
  34. Mika Costello (she/they), Willamette University, Swimming
  35. Anonymous Student-Athlete, Smith College, Swimming & Diving
  36. Braeden Abrahamsen (they/them), Vanderbilt University, Bowling
  37. G Ryan (they/them), University of Michigan, Swimming
  38. Quinn (they/them), Duke University, Soccer
  39. Nikki Hiltz (they/them), University of Arkansas, Track & Field
  40. Anonymous Student-Athlete, Mount Holyoke College, Tennis
  41. Donovan Stearns (they/them), Wellesley College, Basketball
  42. Vikki Krane (they/them), Denison University, Soccer
  43. Malakai Chukas (he/him), Mount Holyoke College, Basketball
  44. Nina Farid, M.D. (they/them), Newman University, Soccer
  45. Jordan Box (she/they), Brevard College, Soccer
  46. Elizabeth Mullin (she/they), Mount Holyoke College, Soccer
  47. Anonymous Student-Athlete, Wartburg College, Soccer
  48. Carin Zinter (they/them), Mount Holyoke College, Swimming
  49. Anonymous Student-Athlete, Mount Holyoke College, Soccer
  50. Anonymous Student-Athlete, University of Miami, Track & Field