Updated: Jan 30
2022 and 2023 have seen a major shift in the way transgender athletes may compete in sporting events. In some states, there are laws that grant explicit rights, protections, or limitations for transgender athletes while other states have yet to pass any legislation. Here, we provide an overview of the current status of transgender athlete laws in each state across the United States.
On April 23, 2021, Alabama passed HB 391 which established different sports categories based on sex in K-12 public schools. This means that athletes assigned male at birth may not participate in the girl's category and athletes assigned female at birth are barred from participating in the boy's category unless there is no comparable girl's opportunity (such as football). The Alabama High School Athletic Association also has a policy that sex is determined by original birth certificates.
In Alaska, it is up to schools to determine the eligibility of transgender athletes and if there is no policy in place then the student’s birth certificate is used to determine their sex. There are currently no state laws in place, although a bill was introduced during the 2021 legislative session.
On March 25, 2021, Arkansas passed SB 354 which prohibits transgender girls and women from participating in girls’ or women’s sports. Additionally, Arkansas is the only state to have passed a ban on gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth, although the law has since been blocked in federal court.
In Arizona, a multistep process is used to determine eligibility for transgender athletes. Students must first give notice of their gender identity to their school and then to AIA (the Arizona Interscholastic Association). They are also expected to submit a letter telling their gender story as well as letters of support from a parent/guardian, school administrator, and healthcare provider. Despite several bills proposed in the Arizona legislature to restrict transgender participation, none have yet become law.
In California AB 1266 was signed into law in 2013 which requires public schools to allow transgender students to access bathrooms and sports teams according to their gender identity. The California Interscholastic Federation also has a policy that echoes this law, with an appeals process in case of a dispute.
In Colorado, transgender students must inform their school in writing that they identify differently from their sex assigned at birth and the Colorado High School Activities Association requires the school to perform a confidential evaluation. There are no medical or legal requirements stated, and all forms of documentation are voluntary.
School districts in Connecticut must make decisions on athlete placement based on the gender identity reflected in school records and the student's daily activities, with no medical or legal requirements mandated. Though a bill was introduced to bar transgender girls from participating in girls and women's teams, it was not passed in 2021.
Transgender students may participate in sports according to their gender identity under the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association but must provide an updated birth certificate, passport, or driver's license that recognizes their identity. Individual schools can challenge participation if there are safety or competitive equity concerns.
In 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 1028 which states that sex for athletic participation in public school settings will be established by the official birth certificate filed at or near birth. Those assigned females at birth may participate in boys' and men's sports, but those assigned males at birth may not participate in girls' and women's sports.
Individual schools in Georgia set their own policies for athlete classification and the Georgia High School Association does not provide guidance. The legislation was introduced during the 2021 session aimed at limiting transgender athletes' ability to play sports, but no law was passed.
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association has no discernible 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 became the first state to pass a law restricting transgender students' access to sports in March 2020. 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 the law.
In Illinois, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) is responsible for determining student-athlete eligibility. Students must notify their school if their gender identity differs from the sex assigned at birth and provide medical documentation to be considered for eligibility. During the 2021 session, a bill that would have restricted transgender girls from playing on girls’ and women’s teams was introduced but did not pass.
In Indiana, the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) determines eligibility for sex-segregated sports based on the birth certificate. However, students can apply for a waiver if they have socially transitioned for at least one year. Transgender boys must provide documentation that they have begun hormone therapy and transgender girls must provide proof of at least one year of hormone therapy or surgery. A committee votes on the waiver and the decision must be unanimous.
On March 3, 2022, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed House File 2416 into law, making it illegal for transgender girls and women to participate in girls’ high school sports and women’s college athletics. The law requires all students participating in interscholastic sports sponsored or sanctioned by either a public school district or an accredited nonpublic school to play with teammates who match the gender listed on their birth certificate, from primary school grades through state universities and colleges. Schools can still choose to offer co-ed sports or create special accommodations for transgender students.
In Kansas, 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" when determining appropriate athletic placement for each student. Should disputes and appeals arise, the KSHSAA handles them. In April 2021, Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a bill that would have prohibited transgender girls from playing girls’ and women’s sports in public schools from kindergarten to college.
The Kentucky High School Athletics Association (KHSAA) policy states that students' eligibility for sex-segregated sports will be determined by birth certificate unless students have been “legally reassigned.” To be considered “reassigned” a student may provide an updated birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, or another 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 steps of surgery and hormone therapy for “a sufficient length of time.”
On June 6, 2022, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards took a stance against discrimination by declining to veto SB 44. This bill prevents transgender women and girls from competing on sports teams that match their gender identity in all public and some private elementary and secondary schools and colleges. This law becomes effective as of August 1, 2022, requiring all public schools and certain private schools receiving state funding to designate sports teams based on “biological sex”.
The Maine Principals' Association has outlined procedures for transgender student-athletes to participate in a category that aligns with their gender identity. To be eligible, students must notify their school and provide medical, legal, and school records that validate their gender identity. The Gender Identity Equity Committee then reviews each case individually to decide whether or not the student will be granted eligibility. A bill was recently proposed in 2021 that would have restricted transgender girls from competing on female sports teams, but it did not become law.
The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Association provides guidelines for local school districts on how to handle 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. If there is a concern regarding the student’s gender identity, it must be reviewed by establishing an appeal review committee. There are no medical or legal requirements stated.
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association has put in place regulations that require schools to accept transgender students as the gender they identify with across all school programs, not just sports teams. The local school makes the eligibility determinations but MIAA focuses on gender identity instead of sex when separating sports teams. The regulation states that “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.”
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 any medical steps that have been taken. A bill was proposed in 2021 that would have barred transgender athletes from competing in teams based on their gender identity, but it did not become law.
In 2021, the Minnesota legislature attempted to introduce a bill that would have limited transgender athletes’ participation in sports, but it did not pass. As such, Minnesota currently allows transgender students to take part in sports in accordance with their gender identity without any medical or legal requirements.
March of 2021 saw the Mississippi governor sign a law dictating that students assigned male at birth may not participate in girls’ sports in public elementary, middle, high school, or college. This includes club and intramural sports. The Human Rights Campaign has announced plans to file suit against this law, though no lawsuits have been filed as of yet.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association has a hormone-based policy for transgender athletes. All transgender students must submit an application to participate in the gender category that differs from their sex assigned at birth. Transgender boys who have not yet begun hormone therapy can take part in boys’ sports but must do so if they have started treatment. Transgender girls, on the other hand, must have engaged in hormone therapy for one year before they are able to participate in boys’ sports.
In May of 2021, Gov. Greg Gianforte signed into law HB 112, which prevents students assigned male at birth from participating in girls’ sports in public elementary, middle, high school, or college. This includes club and intramural sports.
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 certain criteria: they must live as their gender identity; provide testimony from parents, friends, and/or teachers attesting to the validity of their gender; and get 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.
The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association has issued a position statement and policy guidance for transgender athletes. Schools make the initial determination of a student’s eligibility, which is based on school records and daily life activities in school and the community. No medical or legal requirements are stated, meaning that transgender students are allowed to take part in sports in accordance with their gender identity without any additional documentation. Schools may also consider additional documentation provided by the student. The NIAA has an appeals process for students who do not receive approval from their school, which includes an evaluation of the student’s ties to the school and the community.
During the 2021 legislative session, a bill was introduced in New Hampshire that aimed to prevent transgender girls from participating in girls' and women's sports, but it did not become law.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association allows transgender students to participate either according to their sex assigned at birth or in a manner consistent with their gender identity, without any additional medical or legal requirements. Member schools may appeal the eligibility of a transgender student, and the case will be heard by the committee.
In New Mexico, eligibility for sex-segregated sports is determined by birth certificate. There are no specific policies regarding transgender athletes; however, a bill that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in girls' and women's sports was proposed during the 2021 legislative session but did not pass.
In New York, all students have the right to participate in sports according to their gender identity. The student's school determines eligibility with documentation provided by the student, while appeals go to the commissioner of education.
Transgender students in North Carolina must submit a gender identity request form through their school to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. This includes 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. 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.
The North Dakota High School Athletic Association uses a hormone therapy-based policy. Transgender boys who have begun hormone therapy must participate in boys' sports, while transgender girls are eligible to participate in girls' sports after one year of hormone therapy. Gov. Doug Burgum recently vetoed a bill that would have restricted the ability of transgender athletes to take part in sports.
The state of Ohio recently passed a bill amending the name, image, and likeness law for college athletes. The amendment prohibits transgender girls from participating in girls and women's sports. This law was approved by the house and took effect immediately upon being signed by Governor Kevin Stitt.
In Oklahoma, a law was passed that prohibits transgender girls and women from competing on girls and women's sports teams. This law applies to both high school and college athletes, taking effect immediately upon being signed. The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activity Association has had a policy in place addressing transgender athletes since 2015, but no school has ever requested enforcement of the policy.
The Oregon School Activities Association recognizes any student's decision to participate in a sports category that differs from their assigned sex at birth. No medical or legal requirements are needed and students do not need to register with the association to be eligible for competition.
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.
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, they can notify the school, which will make a determination based on documentation from a parent, guidance counselor or doctor, psychologist, or other medical professionals.
In order to participate in sex-segregated sports in South Carolina, transgender students must notify their school and the school must contact the South Carolina High School League for an application to initiate the gender identity process. The student and school must provide documentation, such as a transcript and school registration, that attests to the student's consistent gender identity. This application and documentation will be referred to a gender identity eligibility advisory board for consideration. A bill prohibiting transgender girls from participating in girls' and women's sports was filed in 2021 but did not become law.
On February 3, 2022, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed SB 46 into law. This legislation bans transgender girls and college-age women from playing in school sports leagues that match their gender identity.
In May 2021, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a law that states student-athletes must use the gender assigned on their original birth certificate to determine eligibility for athletic events. This law affects public high schools and middle schools but excludes K-4 grades. In May 2022, Lee also signed a bill banning transgender athletes from participating in women's college sports at both public and private universities. This ban will come into effect on July 1, 2022.
On October 25, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 25 into law. This legislation states student-athletes must use the gender assigned on their official birth certificate to determine eligibility in interscholastic sports. The University Interscholastic League previously accepted amended birth certificates, but this law overrides that policy.
On March 25, 2022, Utah lawmakers voted to override Gov. Spencer Cox's veto of H.B. 11 which bans transgender girls from participating on interscholastic sports teams consistent with their gender identity. The law is set to take effect July 1, 2022, and will affect the one transgender girl currently playing K-12 sports in the state.
The Vermont Principals' Association requires students who wish to participate in athletics consistent with their gender identity to notify the superintendent and provide documentation from parents or guardians, a guidance counselor, and/or a medical professional. There are no medical or legal requirements stated.
The Virginia High School League's multi-level review process requires students or parents/guardians to notify the principal of their school and provide a personal statement, support letters from parents, friends, or teachers, a list of medications, and verification from a physician. The principal then forwards the student's case to the district committee where it can be escalated to the VHSL executive director and/or compliance officer. If the decision does not grant the student eligibility, they may appeal.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association allows transgender athletes to participate in programs “consistent with their gender identity or the gender most consistently expressed” without any medical or legal requirements. However, a bill was introduced in 2021 that would have prohibited this practice but failed to pass.
Each school in Washington, D.C. is responsible for determining the best placement of transgender students when it comes to sex-segregated sports, however, the District of Columbia State Athletic Association provides clear guidance that schools must allow students to participate in a manner that reflects their gender identity. No medical or legal requirements are necessary and there is an appeals and mediation process should a school deny a transgender student's eligibility.
On April 28, 2022, Governor Jim Justice signed into law House Bill 3293 which mandates that students assigned male at birth may not participate in girls' sports in public elementary, middle, high school, or college. This includes club and intramural sports.
Schools in Wisconsin determine eligibility for transgender student-athletes and must receive written notification, medical documentation, a personal statement, verification from a healthcare professional of the student's gender identity, and additional written testimony from the student's parents, friends, and/or teachers. The Wisconsin Interscholastic Activities Association also provides guidance around hormone therapy. Bills aimed at restricting transgender athletes' participation were introduced in 2021 but none became law.
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. The WHSHAA will get involved only if a school requests a review of its decision, or if a school denies a student eligibility. No medical or legal requirements are necessary for transgender students to participate in sports.
In many states across the United States today, there is an effort to ensure that transgender athletes have the opportunity to participate in programs consistent with their gender identity. However, some states have bills or laws in place that limit transgender students’ access to sports teams. It is important to stay informed of the regulations and laws in each state. If your state does not have a law or guidance in place, school districts should consider developing their own policies and procedures so each principal has guidance on how to navigate accommodations for transgender athletes. At McGrath Training Solutions, we strive to ensure that our clients remain compliant with all state and federal laws related to Title IX. Our services include providing updates on the latest regulatory changes, conducting training, policy reviews, compliance checks, and climate surveys, and offering guidance regarding best practices. With our help, your organization can ensure a safe and inclusive environment for its staff and students.