Inclusive Locker Rooms and Transgender Athletes

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In 2017, legislators in 16 states, including Texas, considered bills focusing on transgender individuals’ use of bathrooms. Though the bills varied slightly, they all sought to restrict access to the facility one could use—whether a restroom, locker room, or a similar facility—based on that person’s sex assigned at birth.

Even though the bathroom bills have ultimately failed, the effects on transgender individuals was nevertheless lasting, impacting their physical and mental health. 

Given these events, the American Kinesiology Association, or AKA, drafted its first ever position statement, with a focus on the importance of inclusive locker rooms and changing spaces. Researchers at Texas A&M University, collaborating with a sport law expert and a transgender Olympic athlete, wrote the statement.

The authors noted changing opportunities for transgender athletes at all participation levels, including the International Olympic Committee. They also cited case law and rulings germane to the topic, and noted the psychological, physical, and social harm linked with inclusion and exclusion. 

Next, the authors presented frequently voiced concerns with transgender inclusion, with an emphasis on safety and privacy. 

Given the review, the authors presented the case for inclusive locker rooms, which permit access by transgender athletes to those facilities that correspond to their gender identity. 

The authors concluded with the official AKA position statement—the American Kinesiology Association endorses inclusive locker rooms, by which we mean sex-segregated facilities that are open to transgender athletes on the basis of their gender identity

The AKA is one of the largest national associations focusing on kinesiology and well-being. The position statement signals a strong commitment to transgender inclusion in sport and physical activity, including in locker rooms and team spaces.