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U Sports announced a new policy with respect to trans* athletes this morning. According to the press release, Canadian university sports will now permit student-athletes to be eligible to compete on the team that corresponds with either their sex assigned at birth or their gender identity, as long as they comply to the Canadian Anti-Doping Program. The policy will take effect immediately.

The newly announced policy will follow the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport's Creative Inclusive Environments for Trans Participants in Canadian Sport guidelines and will not require student-athletes to undergo hormone therapy in order to compete in the gendered category with which they identify.

The decision comes from the U Sports equity committee, which began working with the CCES in 2016 to create a policy for all trans* student-athletes competing in Canada. The committee also garnered feedback from the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity.

Lisen Moore, chair of the U Sports equity committee and manager of varsity sports, athletics and recreation at McGill University, explained in the press release that the policy is designed to allow more inclusion within U Sports.

“The members of the equity committee were driven to ensure that all students at our Canadian universities have equal opportunities of being selected to varsity teams regardless of their gender or their gender identity and expression,” said Moore. “We are thrilled by the support of the board on our leading-edge trans* policy, and we are now looking forward to assisting our member institutions with the roll-out and implementation of that policy.”

The newly announced U Sports policy is more inclusive in comparison to the policy in the United States devised by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Currently, the NCAA stipulates that a trans* man who has undergone treatment for testosterone may compete on a men’s team but is no longer able to compete on a women’s team. 

A trans* woman who has been treated for testosterone suppression medication is allowed to continue competing for a men’s team. However, if the athlete competes for a women’s team, that team must change its status to a mixed team.

The new U Sports policy dictates that student-athletes are limited to five total years of eligibility and may only compete on sport teams of one gender during a given academic year.

According to Christine Stapleton, Western's director of sport and recreation services, the policy will help Canada's universities move forward with inclusive sports approaches.

"We're just excited that there's actually policy," said Stapleton. "Something that we can use to move forward with our inclusive sports approach. That our trans* athletes can participate in whatever [sport], in the gender they identify with."

Update (9:28 a.m., September 28th): the article was updated in paragraph eight to clarify the NCAA's policy.

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