A transgender swimmer for the University of Pennsylvania has finally been defeated by a Yale University competitor who is also transgender.
Lia Thomas, who is biologically male but identifies as female, has been obliterating records previously held by biologically female athletes, receiving scorn from fellow UPenn swimmers who take issue with Thomas’ presence on the women’s team. It appears, though, the transgender athlete’s skill level has been matched.
Thomas won two races at a tri-meet over the weekend but fell short in the 100 freestyle. Yale swimmer Iszac Henig, a biological female who is transitioning to male, received a time of 49.57 seconds to Thomas’ 52.84 seconds, according to the Daily Mail.
One UPenn parent expressed dismay over the entire situation, telling the outlet: “I wasn’t prepared for that. Everything is messed up. I can’t wrap my head around this. The NCAA needs to do something about this. They need to put science into the decision and discussion.”
It’s important to note that, while Henig has begun to transition socially, the Ivy League swimmer has not yet started hormone treatments. Though Henig’s breasts have been removed, the athlete professed in The New York Times last June to not yet be taking testosterone injections.
“As a student-athlete, coming out as a trans guy put me in a weird position,” Henig wrote. “I could start hormones to align more with myself, or wait, transition socially and keep competing on a women’s swim team. I decided on the latter.”
“I value my contributions to the team and recognize that my boyhood doesn’t hinge on whether there’s more or less testosterone running through my veins,” the swimmer continued. “At least, that’s what I’ll try to remember when I put on the women’s swimsuit for the competition and am reminded of a self I no longer feel attached to.”
At the time, Yale shared the article on social media, using Henig’s preferred pronouns.
The Daily Mail reported that, at the conclusion of the race this weekend, Henig — who, competing on the women’s team wears a women’s swimsuit — pulled down the top part of the suit.
Both UPenn and The Ivy League issued statements last week affirming the inclusion of transgender athletes in women’s swimming.
“Penn Athletics is committed to being a welcoming and inclusive environment for all our student-athletes, coaches and staff and we hold true to that commitment today and in the future,” the university stated. “As a member of the NCAA, Penn is governed by the policies of the national governing body. Lia Thomas has met or exceeded all NCAA protocols over the past two years for a transgender female student-athlete to compete for a women’s team. She will continue to represent the Penn women’s swimming team in competition this season.”
The Ivy League echoed that sentiment.
“The Ivy League reaffirms its unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all student-athletes while condemning transphobia and discrimination in any form,” the organization stated. “The league welcomes her participation in the sport of women’s swimming and diving and looks forward to celebrating the success of all our student-athletes throughout the season.”
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