[Editor’s note: We recognized that this story is extremely confusing as far as gender goes. For clarification purposes, Lia Thomas is a biological man who presents himself as a woman. Iszac Henig is a biological woman who presents herself as a man. We have placed the biological gender in parenthesis for consistency and clarity throughout the article.]
Penn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, who has made headlines for crushing her (his) competition since she (he) joined the women’s swim team after three years of competing as a man, was humiliated on Saturday when she (he) was defeated in the 100-meter freestyle during a tri-meet with Yale and Dartmouth.
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While Thomas had come out victorious in the 200-meter and 500-meter races at Penn’s final home meet of the season, she (he) was crushed in the 100-meter by Yale’s Iszac Henig, who is a transgender swimmer that is currently transitioning from female to male. Henig finished this race at 49.57, while Thomas touched the wall in 52.84.
“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,” a parent of another PENN swimmer told The Daily Mail.
Thomas was then beaten again by Henig in the 400-freestyle relay. Henig swam 50.45 to Thomas’ 51.94. Henig revealed back in June that he (she) is not taking hormones so that he can remain on the women’s team.
“As a student-athlete, coming out as a trans guy put me in a weird position. 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,” Henig wrote in an oped for The New York Times.
“I value my contributions to the team and recognize that my boyhood [biologically female] doesn’t hinge on whether there’s more or less testosterone running through my veins,” he (she) added. “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.”
Spectators of the races said that Thomas was “coasting” and “barely trying” during the 500-freestyle, which was won by a one-second margin. Fox News reported that Thomas received support from the Ivy League and Penn earlier this week.
“Over the past several years, Lia and the University of Pennsylvania worked with the NCAA to follow all of the appropriate protocols in order to comply with the NCAA policy on transgender athlete participation and compete on the Penn women’s swimming and diving team. The Ivy League has adopted and applies the same NCAA policy,” the conference said in a statement Thursday.
“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 statement continued. “The league welcomes her [his] participation in the sport of women’s swimming and diving and looks forward to celebrating the success of all of our student-athletes throughout the season.”
Penn Athletics also released a statement supporting Thomas.
“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 school said. “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,” the school added. “She [he] will continue to represent the Penn women’s swimming team in competition this season. We fully support all the student-athletes and coaches in our swimming and diving program and look forward to the team’s continued success this season.”
This piece was written by James Samson on January 9, 2022. It originally appeared in RedVoiceMedia.com and is used by permission.
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