2 trans athletes faced off in a varsity women’s swimming competition

NEW HAVEN, Ct. – The last home meeting at the University of Pennsylvania for our trans wife Lia Thomas was a double against Dartmouth and Yale, and despite a pair of wins it ended in double the disappointment. of the swimmer who set the record.

That’s because the Yale University Bulldogs won Saturday’s meet and returned to Connecticut with their undefeated record intact, and one of their women’s team swimmers beat Thomas in the 100-meter freestyle. .

That swimmer was Iszac Henig, 21, a senior from Menlo Park, Calif., Who stepped out as a trans man in April 2021.

Although he underwent superior surgery for gender affirmation as competition was suspended during the pandemic, Henig decided not to start hormone therapy so that he could continue to compete with his teammates under the rules of the NCAA, as he wrote in The New York Times:

“As a student athlete, coming out as a trans guy put me in a weird position,” Henig wrote in The temperature. “I could start using hormones to align myself more with myself, or wait, make a social transition and continue to compete on a women’s swim team. I opted for the latter. I appreciate my contributions to the team and recognize that my childhood does not depend on whether there is more or less testosterone in my veins. At least that’s what I’ll try to remember when I put on the women’s swimsuit for competition and remember a me that I no longer feel attached to.

Wearing this traditional women’s swimsuit, Henig won the 50-meter freestyle clocking 22.76 by 0.96 seconds, then followed it with a 49.57 to win the 100-meter freestyle, by 1.60 seconds. . Like Swimswam.com reported, these are huge margins for each of these events.

In contrast, Thomas, 22, finished 6th in the 100 freestyle with 52.84, his slowest 100 of the season by more than a second. However, she did manage to win the 500 freestyle with a time of 4: 57.20, her slowest time of the season of 3 seconds. Like Swimswam.com noted, it is 23 seconds slower than his season best time of 4: 34.06.

Thomas also clocked 1: 48.73 to win the 200 freestyle, his 2nd slowest 200 of the season so far. She swam 26.08 and 28.12 in the top 2 50s. Then, on the back half, she shared 27.14 and 27.39, for a 54.53 in the 2nd 100, which swimswam.com summarized as an “almost even swim”.

It was Thomas’ first meeting since last month, when she made headlines around the world setting new Ivy League conference records. Thomas underwent testosterone suppression, a medical treatment required by the NCAA for her to compete, for 2.5 years, 18 months longer than is currently required.

Lia-Thomas (right) and her friend Hannah Liu via Instagram

The UPenn has closed the competition to the public, except for a limited number of guest athletes and coaches, in accordance with its COVID-19 guidelines for spectacle sports. But as the Philadelphia Investigator reported, a phalanx of national media News week, ESPN, on Washington post, the Daily mail and Fox news, among others, have been accredited to cover it.

According to Applicant, student-athletes who allegedly threatened to boycott the competition in protest against Thomas’ inclusion failed to follow through on the threats.

On the contrary, other swimmers and senior divers from the three universities included Thomas and Henig ahead of the competition to celebrate their collegial achievements. They each received bouquets and posed together for a Senior Day photo.

University of Pennsylvania Swim Meet (Photo credit: yalebulldogs.com)

In the days leading up to Saturday’s meet, Thomas’ legitimacy to compete under NCAA rules was endorsed by the Ivy League, the University of Pennsylvania and by Students at Penn Law School, who tweeted their support with a group of affiliated organizations.

Thomas also recently received support from US Olympian Jacob Pebley in 2016 and two-time Australian Olympic silver medalist Madeline Groves. Pebley posted on Instagram that those who attack Thomas should instead focus on the governing bodies that make policy, and criticized those who have normalized discrimination and ignored the effects of the attacks on his mental health.

In a series of Instagram stories, reported by Swimswam.com, Groves described those who criticized Thomas’ involvement with other women as broadcasting a “transphobic dribble.”

“It’s so sad for me to see seemingly educated people using their platform to post transphobic dribbles – what gives you the right to decide who can play sports? Athletes are traditionally egotistical, but using fanaticism to justify excluding an entire group of people from sport is simply disgusting.

“If you’re too threatened to compete alongside trans women, you’re a selfish coward who wasn’t that good at sports in the first place.”

Naomi C. Amerson