On September 9, the Brandeis University Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation announced its Transgender Student Inclusion Policy. Thanks to the work of Vice President of Student Affairs Raymond Ou, Director of Athletics Lauren Haynie, Director of the Gender and Sexuality Center at Brandeis Julián Cancino, and a committee of student-athletes and staff members, the Transgender Student Inclusion Policy helps to codify the University and the Department's adoption of inclusive participation practices and demonstrate a commitment to fair play and inclusion. Brandeis becomes the first institution in the University Athletic Association to develop a policy of this type.
"It was especially important to me that our gender inclusion policy for student-athletes is grounded in our shared values at Brandeis," said Ou. "We are committed to fostering an inclusive community in which individuals are empowered to be their full, authentic selves, both on and off the field, and I am grateful to colleagues in athletics and the GSC for their dedicated work leading to this announcement."
"The process started [in 2020] because we had a student-athlete who was planning to undergo the NCAA process of transferring from one roster to another," said Haynie. "This student-athlete was prepared to complete that process, but it can be a daunting task. We wanted to support this student-athlete, while being prepared for future student-athletes who might need more guidance."
While the NCAA's process is extensive, each individual institution has its own policies with regard to how to confirm a student-athlete's gender identity. Brandeis's overall commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion ensures that all student-athletes will be treated with dignity and respect no matter their gender identity.
"The new policy expands access to participation in sports for transgender student-athletes," said Cancino. "This inclusive policy makes Brandeis a leader in gender equity. It's a win for Brandeis because it puts our foundational value of inclusion into action."
The Brandeis policy includes sections on the NCAA process and how the University will support student-athletes through it, as well as best practices for club, intramural and varsity sports. It addresses athlete and team education about transgender and non-binary student-athletes, dress codes, language, media, travel and enforcement of the policies.
"The committee made it easy for student-athletes to give their input, and the department's diversity, equity and inclusion training did a great job of explaining everything," said Jac Guerra '22, a member of the men's track and cross country teams who transitioned from the women's teams after his sophomore year.
When Guerra enrolled at Brandeis, his coach, Sinead Evans, had questions about how the NCAA regulates the transfer of student-athletes between team rosters. Guerra researched the NCAA's policies to understand and explain the requirements. "Brandeis' [new] policy makes it really clear," Guerra said. "It's a really good thing in my eyes."
The full Brandeis Athletics Transgender Student Inclusion Policy may be found at BrandeisJudges.com.
-- by Adam Levin '94/MA '21