U Sports approves policy for transgender athletes

Governing body of Canadian university sport introduces more inclusive mandate for student athletes

U Sports is the governing body for all Canadian university sport.
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Journal File Photo

Last Thursday, U Sports introduced a new transgender policy with aims of creating equal opportunities for Canadian university athletes, regardless of their gender identity and expression.

In a media release, U Sports touted the new policy as “leading-edge.” During the process, they consulted the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports, a national internal association that aims to maintain the integrity of sport within Canada. They also oversee Canada’s anti-doping programs.

U Sports said the policy became effective once the release came out, giving transgender athletes opportunities to play in the 2018-19 season. According to the policy, “A student athlete … may only compete on sport teams of one gender during a given academic year.”

In addition, U Sports said the policy doesn’t require student athletes to undergo hormone therapy to complete a gender category. 

The policy mandates student athletes to comply with the Canadian Anti-Doping Program. U Sports didn’t stipulate to what length hormones are allowed and how transgender athletes can comply with World Anti-Doping Agency standards.

In recent years, U Sports has come under fire for thwarting efforts of transgender athletes hoping to continue their athletic careers in university. Prior to the new policy, Canadian universities were left to determine the fates of transgender athletes who study at their institutions.

The policy doesn’t align with events sanctioned by international governing bodies such as the Summer or Winter Universiade, which numerous U Sports athletes attend every year.

As per standard U Sports practices,  the athletes are eligible for five years of university sport.

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