NEW PORT, Ct. – The final home game at the University of Pennsylvania for our transwoman Lia Thomas was a double-double against Dartmouth and Yale, and despite a couple of wins, it ended with a double disappointment for the record-breaking swimmer.
That’s because the Yale University Bulldogs won Saturday’s game and returned to Connecticut with their undefeated record intact, and one of the women’s team swimmers defeated Thomas in the 100-meter freestyle.
That swimmer was Iszac Henig, 21, a senior from Menlo Park, California, who came out as a trans man in April 2021.
Although he underwent top-level gender-confirming surgery while the competition was suspended during the pandemic, Henig decided not to start hormone therapy so he could continue to compete with his teammates in accordance with NCAA rules, as he wrote in The New York Times:
“As a student-athlete, my coming out as a trans man put me in a weird position,” Henig wrote in The times. “I could start hormones to tune in more to myself, or wait, switch socially and continue competing in a women’s swim team. I decided on the latter. I appreciate my contributions to the team and recognize that my youth doesn’t depend on having more or less testosterone coursing through my veins. At least that’s what I’ll try to remember when I don the women’s swimsuit to competitions and am reminded of a self I no longer feel attached to.”
Wearing that traditional women’s swimsuit, Henig won the 50m freestyle in 22.76 with 0.96 seconds, then followed that with 49.57 to win the 100 freestyle, with 1.60 seconds. if Swimswam.com reported, those are huge margins for each of those events.
Thomas, 22, on the other hand, finished 6th in the 100 free with 52.84, her slowest 100 of the season by over a second. However, she was able to win the 500 free with a 4:57.20, her slowest time of the season at 3 seconds. if Swimswam.com noted, it’s 23 seconds slower than her best season of 4:34.06.
Thomas also recorded a 1:48.73 to win the 200 free, her second slowest 200 of the season to date. She swam 26.08 and 28.12 on the first 2 50s. Then she split 27.14 and 27.39 on the back half, for a 54.53 on the 2nd 100, which swimswam.com summarized as an “almost an evenly spaced dive.”
This was Thomas’ first meeting since last month, when she made headlines around the world by setting new Ivy League conference records. Thomas is undergoing testosterone suppression, a medical treatment the NCAA needs to compete, for 2 ½ years, 18 months longer than currently required.
UPenn closed the competition to the public, with the exception of a limited number of athletes and coaches guests, in accordance with the COVID-19 guidelines for spectator sports. But if the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, a phalanx of national media from news week, ESPN, de Washington Post, the Daily mail and Fox news, among other things, were accredited to cover it.
According to the questioner, student-athletes who reportedly threatened to boycott the gathering to protest Thomas’ inclusion, have not heeded these threats.
Rather, the other senior swimmers and divers from all three universities took both Thomas and Henig for the competition to celebrate their collegiate achievements. They were each given a bouquet and posed together for a Senior Day photo.
In the days leading up to Saturday’s game, Thomas’ legitimacy to compete in accordance with NCAA rules was endorsed by the Ivy League, the University of Pennsylvania and by Penn Law School students, tweeting their support along with a group of affiliated organizations.
Thomas also recently had support from 2016 American Olympian Jacob Pebley 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 decisions, criticizing those who normalize discrimination and ignore the effects of the attacks on her mental health.
In a series of Instagram Stories reported by Swimswam.com, Groves described those who criticized Thomas’ participation with other women as spreading “transphobic dribble.”
“It’s so sad for me to see seemingly educated people using their platform to post transphobic dribbles – what the hell gives you the right to decide who gets to exercise? Athletes are traditionally self-centered, but using bigotry to justify excluding an entire group of people from sport is just disgusting.
“If you’re too threatened to compete with trans women, you’re a selfish coward who probably wasn’t very good at sports.”