Colorado Springs, Colo. (March 24, 2023)—The USA Ultimate Board of Directors unanimously approved a temporary policy that prohibits the awarding of national championship events to locations in states that have anti-transgender sports participation laws for the next two years, with the intent of further developing the policy through its strategic planning process, the national governing body for the sport of ultimate in the United States announced today.
The policy, which passed by a 10-0-2 vote at a March 9th board meeting, will remain in effect through 2024 and applies to states with laws that restrict participation of transgender athletes to the division that matches their sex assigned at birth rather than their gender identity.
The long-term status of the policy is subject to further evaluation as USA Ultimate gathers more information from the ultimate community as part of its upcoming strategic planning process this spring.
The policy affects USA Ultimate’s six major championship tournaments: the Beach Championships, College Championships (Division I & III), U.S. Open, Masters Championships and National Championships.
Prior to board discussion and vote, USA Ultimate staff consulted with, and solicited input from, transgender and non-binary players and organizers in the ultimate community, as well as organizers in the states where these prohibitive laws exist.
While these laws do not specifically apply to USA Ultimate events, or otherwise prohibit the application of USA Ultimate’s policies regarding the participation of transgender athletes, the feedback provided to USA Ultimate indicated that transgender and other gender nonconforming athletes in the ultimate community may not feel safe traveling to states with restrictive sports laws. This new policy signifies another step towards cultivating a more inclusive and safer environment at major championship events.
As a leader among national governing bodies of amateur sport in considering anti-transgender legislation as a factor in determining championship event locations, USA Ultimate is believed to be the only NGB that currently has such a policy in place.
In 2020, USA Ultimate introduced a revised Gender Inclusion Policy – widely considered to be one of the most inclusive in all of sport – which advocates for the ability of all athletes to participate in the division in which they feel most comfortable and safe based on their gender identity.
USA Ultimate reiterates its unwavering support of the transgender community, strives to create a welcoming and inclusive environment and believes an individual’s gender identity should be recognized, respected and included at all levels of sport.
Currently, 19 states have laws that restrict participation in inter- and/or intra-scholastic sports based on sex assigned at birth. As a result, the following states are ineligible to host any of the six aforementioned championship events at this time due to the corresponding legislation cited below.
|South Carolina||HB 4608|
|South Dakota||SB 46|
|West Virginia||HB 3293|
In consideration of today’s announcement, Dave Klink, USA Ultimate Board of Directors President, issued the following statement:
USA Ultimate’s position on inclusion, as stated in our Gender Inclusion Policy, is not complicated: We value inclusion. The development of a policy regarding event hosting in light of a growing number of transphobic state laws, however, is a complex undertaking, and the legal and political landscapes are changing rapidly. USA Ultimate staff brought a detailed presentation to the board to help inform our decision, but all involved also recognize that this is a challenging issue, and the decision was motivated by at least as many questions as answers. Ultimate is played in all 50 states, and USA Ultimate’s involvement with the sport in the United States is not, and cannot, be limited to states whose legislatures share our values. Even as we temporarily institute this policy for the protection of our athletes at our highest profile events (where safety concerns are arguably more pronounced), we acknowledge that this is an imperfect policy. We recognize that local ultimate communities often do not agree with their state legislatures, nor are values within ultimate communities homogeneous. As such, our new policy is both over-inclusive and under-inclusive. Though we do not feel comfortable hosting our highest profile national championship events within their borders at this time, there will still be a great deal of ultimate being played in states where the legislatures have passed anti-transgender laws, and we intend to continue to have a presence in those states and to partner with their local ultimate organizations. I sincerely hope that the safety concerns which have influenced this policy will be temporary. Because of the many competing considerations in developing this policy, we believe it is very important to involve the ultimate community in further depth to consider it on an ongoing basis. We are excited to see how our new strategic planning process over the next two months can provide an immediate opportunity to engage with the entire ultimate community on how this policy could be continued, refined, or modified.